[VIEWPOINT]Uri Party’s disingenuous demagogues

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[VIEWPOINT]Uri Party’s disingenuous demagogues

When current Uri Party chairman Kim Geun-tae and former chairman Chung Dong-young met at the end of the last year, they agreed to establish a new political party that will exclude President Roh Moo-hyun.

“The new party should be beyond the influence of anyone and should be established autonomously and independently,” they said, and it is apparent to anyone they want President Roh out. They included a disclaimer in the agreement: “The party will faithfully support the state administration of the ‘participatory government’ of Mr. Roh through the remainder of the term.” They also hid their intentions, calling the party, “a new political party of the citizens with principles.”
The incumbent and former ruling party chairmen must feel embarrassed to transfer all the responsibilities to the president when they should be sharing accountability for the administration’s failures. Only three years since they broke apart the Democratic Party and established the Uri Party, they are trying to break the party again and lean on support from the Honam region. They no longer have decent justification but are stubbornly arguing that they are not going back to the Democratic Party. And they deserve to be looked down upon by President Roh and the citizens.
No matter what they think of themselves, they led the ruling party and served as ministers in the current administration. They might think they helped the president out and that Mr. Roh included them in the cabinet for their presence in the party. However, the citizens think differently. And in this sort of situation, it is often the third party that has the correct perspective.
And now the two politicians have become a subject of ridicule by the president. On the appointment of Mr. Kim and Mr. Chung as ministers, President Roh sneered, “I imitated President Abraham Lincoln’s generous personnel appointment policy, only to have severe ill spoken of me.” Mr. Roh is sarcastically pointing out that they are neither brave enough to risk their political lives nor sincere enough to give up everything and devote themselves. “I will stand by the party, and let’s see if you can leave the party twice,” Mr. Roh said.
Mr. Chung and Mr. Kim should have abandoned, or at least pretended to abandon, their self-interests, if they felt parting with the president was inevitable and the party could not go on with the presidential election campaign in its present shape.
President Roh Moo-hyun never acknowledges failures in state management. So someone has to take the burden for the Uri Party to have the least amount of persuasion. Having ruined the country in the last four years, they want to simply sever their connection with the unpopular administration.
In that critical meeting, the two politicians should not have agreed on the exclusion of President Roh. They should have said, “We are accountable and we are stepping down,” if they truly hoped to prevent the conservatives from coming into power and the progressives from breaking apart.
The two politicians have long been the ruling party’s presidential hopefuls. By resigning, they can add credibility to their argument. If so, their agreement of “the grand integration of the peaceful reformists and the future leaders” could have been far more convincing even if it was only a fancy way of saying “re-establishing the anti-Grand National Party lineup” or “Yeongnam embracement strategy.”
The citizens’ hearts have hardened like stones. We are not moved by ordinary demagogy, trickery and image tactics such as an “open primary.” In order to warm the hearts of the citizens, the politicians must have passion and devotion as hot as a furnace. Only then can they attract outside figures such as former Prime Minister Goh Kun and former Seoul National University president Chung Un-chan. If they do not have such determination, they will have hard time dodging the president’s mockery. They cannot put hopes on the National Assembly election in April next year as well as the presidential election in coming December. And the outcome will lead to the collapse of the progressives, and the fall of the opposition.

*The writer is an editorial writer at the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Du-woo
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