[Viewpoint]Leftists, Roh should quit snipingDemocratic Senator Hillary Clinton of New York may become the first female president of the United States in the November 2008 elections. The following is an episode from her autobiography, titled “Living History.”
Hillary became the first lady when her husband, Bill Clinton, was elected president. One day, an aide asked her what sort of drink she usually had. Without giving it much thought, she answered, “Diet Dr. Pepper,” a type of soda. Since then, she has gotten a flood of Dr. Pepper. The refrigerator of any hotel she stayed in was always filled with that drink. At parties, people approached her, holding glasses of Dr. Pepper. She says, “It was as if I had become a magician.” That is understandable, because two simple words she said, Dr. Pepper, changed the world a little bit.
Even in the United States, where democracy has taken root, a word from the first lady, not the president himself, has a strong influence. Whether people like it or not, this is the reality of the presidential system. Hillary mentioned the episode to show “how careful the first lady should be with her words.”
Though the situation is a little different, the same goes for our country. Whether it makes sense or not, whatever the president says becomes a topic of conversation.
During the Lunar New Year when families gather together, President Roh Moo-hyun sharply criticized the progressive camp.
Why did he do so? The Blue House Web site posted his writing, a long article with 7,300 Korean characters. He must have spent a considerable amount of time writing such a lengthy article to post.
I won’t ask why the president had so much free time immediately before he was scheduled to go abroad. Nobody cares what he did if it happened during his private time. Still there might be two questions from the public.
The first is whether it is right for the president to join in the controversy. It is true that no proper discussions have been had about important social issues and values such as education, real estate, taxesand military duty. In this regard, it is worthwhile for the progressive camp to talk about the Roh administration’s identity. In fact, let them discuss it as much as they want.
But it’s awkward to see the president openly attack a specific group (the progressive camp) and a specific person (Choi Jang-jip, a professor of political science at Korea University) through the Blue House home page. It’s not necessary to talk about Hillary’s episode, but didn’t a businessman commit suicide because of the president’s remarks at the beginning of his term in office?
The second question is on the content of the president’s writing. President Roh mentioned “dependency theory, social structure theory, national economy theory and anti- colonial and feudalism theory.” He said, “The reality showed such theories were wrong.”
Each and every word of his statement is right. But if he truly thought so, what on Earth has he meant by his policies and remarks so far? Why has he said and acted to date as if all the arguments and logic of the leftists are right and those of the conservatives and rightists are wrong? If the president does not explain these questions properly, it would be difficult to accept anything he says.
Furthermore, the scholars criticizing President Roh should not make such a fuss.
The credit should be given to former President Kim Dae-jung and President Roh for allowing the left wing, or the progressive forces, to take root and broaden their influence in South Korea. This is not meant to be sarcastic. Korea has leaned overly on the right until now. Also, a society in which the conservatives and the progressives coexist is healthy. If that is the case with our society, it’s a good thing. But it looks cowardly for the progressives to distinguish themselves from the president at the end of his term, saying, “Roh Moo-hyun is not one of us.”
It is now impossible for the leftists to win a landslide victory in the presidential election. The situation being so, the leftists or the progressives may think, “It would be to our advantage on a long-term basis for the Grand National Party to take power.”
Even if it is true, isn’t it too much to blame President Roh for all the failed leftist policies? Is it the leftist ethic to desert a friend, as the saying goes, “When good cheer is lacking, our friends will be packing?”
*The writer is the city news senior editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Chong-hyuk