[Viewpoint]Once betrayed, now the betrayerI got into a taxi the other day, and the driver was listening to the news on the radio. The announcer was saying the next presidential election is in turmoil. The voice drowned out every other sound in the small car. I shouted to the driver where I was going at the top of my lungs.
Then, the driver lowered the radio volume a little and began to offer a biting criticism of Korean politicians. He gave his view about the country’s political situation and about each presidential aspirant, one by one, pulling no punches.
Just then, everyone on the radio started talking about the possible candidacy of former Grand National Party leader Lee Hoi-chang. With Lee Myung-bak already having secured the party’s nomination, some wanted to consider Lee Hoi-chang as an extra, or spare-tire candidate, to ensure a victory for conservatives. The driver quipped, “New tires, not used ones, are more frequently used for cars nowadays.”
The time in our country’s history when we would fix a flat tire and reuse it as a spare have already passed. Needless to say, it would be even harder to use a tire that’s already had two flats.
Out of the blue, Lee Hoi-chang’s entourage uses the spare-tire argument to back his third run for the presidency. They say Lee Hoi-chang’s candidacy would amount to a kind of contingency plan, in case the current candidate, Lee Myung-bak, fails to go through with the election. However, there is egotism and self-conceit ― not a prepare-for-a-rainy-day attitude ― behind their argument. Such deceitful and shallow tactics are looking more and more like a monument to a lost cause.
Their efforts do not correspond to Lee Hoi-chang, a self-proclaimed man of principle. His entourage has not ceased efforts to push him to run for the presidency. Their second suggestion is that of “face maker.”
They insist that if the GNP only runs one candidate, then he faces harsh attacks by his opponents. They suggest that it would make strategic sense to run a second candidate to ensure that a conservative will win the race. As in wartime, they maintain that a two-top system, with major and minor roles assigned, should be established. But what if Lee Hoi-chang defects from the Grand National Party and runs for the presidency as an independent? That will do nothing to boost such a dream. In addition, Lee Hoi-chang could never play a small role as just a face maker in a presidential election.
A face maker tries to make someone else win the race, not win himself. Lance Armstrong, who won an unprecedented seven consecutive Tour de France races, got help from face makers every year. Naturally, his colleagues’ goals were apparent: Lance Armstrong’s victory, not their victories. However, Lee Hoi-chang does not seem to have any such goal. There are still lingering doubts that he may be obsessed by delusions of finally winning the race.
The choice rests with him. In a political arena dominated by foul play, yesterday’s comrade becomes today’s rival, and today’s friend becomes tomorrow’s enemy. Politics is regarded as a living thing, with a number of situations.
However, even in the political field, such a thing as principles always exists. Nobody doubts that Lee Hoi-chang has done his utmost to be a man of principle.
He suffered a lot from Rhee In-je’s defection from the Grand National Party after he beat him in the party primary. Now, he is trying to betray someone else.
What exactly is he considering?
Does he want to kill any remaining hopes of changing regimes?
He is committing an act of sheer folly that he will regret the rest of his life.
If he desperately wanted to save the embattled nation, rather than just win the presidency, he should just join hands with Lee Myung-bak to push for a change of government.
That would not be the right path to take if he defects from the party and announces his run for the presidency without any justifiable cause.
His third bid for the presidency could deal a blow to GNP nominee Lee Myung-bak and have a significant effect on the upcoming election. It is my sincere hope his choice will not break Korea’s future or his own.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong