[VIEWPOINT]A true winner is a graceful loserA world full of winners would be a suffocating place. A graceful loser makes the world better to live in. However, the defeat itself can never be great. What makes a loser great depends on the course he takes after that defeat. I sincerely hope Lee Hoi-chang, the former presidential candidate of the Grand National Party, follows the course of a graceful loser. His defeats in the presidential elections in 1997 and 2002 were wretched, hollow and incompetent experiences.
They were wretched because he lost two consecutive elections although he ran as a candidate of the main opposition Grand National Party.
The Grand National Party’s election concept was hollow. Mr. Lee’s election camp emphasized the theory that the majority of the people supported him. Such a concept only worked in 1992, as “Kim Young-sam’s theory of majority support.” That happened only after the establishment of a strong foundation for regional cooperation among PK (Busan and South Gyeongsang provinces), TK (Daegu and North Gyeongsang provinces) and the Chungcheong provinces through the merger of three parties. Believing that he had the majority support in 1997, Mr. Lee drove out former President Kim Young-sam from the party and did not prevent Rhee In-je, a competitor in the party primary, from bolting out of the party. Although it was his last chance to win the election, he did not ask for help from Kim Jong-pil, who represented the Chungcheong provinces.
Mr. Lee’s incompetence was in his failure to learn a lesson from defeat. Repeating the same defeat is the proof of his incompetence. When he ran for president for the second time, he did not reach out to Chung Mong-joon, an independent candidate, until the end.
The last choice left for Mr. Lee is making his defeat a great one. How can one be a great loser?
There was a U.S. presidential candidate who suffered two consecutive defeats, in the 1952 and 1956 elections. There are similarities between him and Mr. Lee. It was Adlai Stevenson of the Democratic Party. And it is said that he was an exceptionally intelligent man. Mr. Stevenson ran against Dwight D. Eisenhower of the Republican Party, who was a World War II hero and was loved by the people as if he was the father of the country, in two consecutive presidential elections. He recorded a surprisingly high percentage of support, 44 percent and 42 percent respectively. His was known for his “elegant but malicious tongue.”
This is an example of something he would say: “I would like to make a proposal to the Republican Party. If you stop telling lies about our side, we will also stop telling the truth about you.” After he suffered his second defeat, he said, “I cannot smile because my heart is breaking. But I know I am too old to cry out loud.”
He was very highly regarded after his election defeats. Members of the Democratic Party and the people looked highly on his sense of responsibility, in which he accepted his party’s request to run in an election that was likely impossible to win.
At the party primary for the election of the presidential candidate in 1960, however, Mr. Stevenson gave up the candidacy without regret. And he devoted all his energy to the election of John F. Kennedy.
After assuming the presidency, Mr. Kennedy offered Mr. Stevenson the post of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. That job enabled Mr. Stevenson to dedicate his life to the nation. During the Cuban missile crisis, he silenced the Soviet representative at the UN Security Council with material evidence, logic and passionate oratory. His saga is still well known to the American people.
Mr. Stevenson became a graceful loser in three ways. First, he clearly gave up the ambition to run in the 1960 presidential race. Second, he dedicated himself to the victory of the Democratic Party in the presidential race. Third, he had the talent to win over the Soviet envoy when confronted at the UN arena.
The former presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang can also be a graceful loser in three ways. First, he must declare, “I will not run in the presidential election in December 2007. Therefore, I will not compete in the Grand National Party’s primary to be held in June.”
Second, he must give up all other ambitions and dedicate himself to helping the Grand National Party win the presidential election.
For example, he can use his influence to prevent disobedience, if either Lee Myong-bak or Park Geun-hye disobeys the result of the party primary.
Third, he should prepare himself to be able to give advice to the Kim Jong-il regime or persuade Pyongyang to abide by international norms in preparation for the possibility of being asked to be Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations.
*The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chun Young-gi