[Viewpoint]Gore’s stellar exampleLee Hoi-chang, the former chairman of the Grand National Party, has run twice for the presidency. He used to be prime minister, chairman of the ruling party and chairman of the main opposition party.
He also served as chairman of the National Election Commission, chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea and supreme justice. Neither Kim Jong-pil nor Goh Kun, both former prime ministers, have served in all four fields of legislation, judicature, administration and the election commission. Except for the presidents, he is one of the most blessed people in the Republic of Korea.
Feeling he was unfairly treated, Lee is now set to run for the presidency as an independent candidate. The official reason for his decision is that conservatives need an extra candidate in case suspicions about Lee Myung-bak’s involvement in BBK turn out to be true. He also criticizes the North Korea policy touted by Lee Myung-bak and the Grand National Party.
But his true motives must be that he feels lonesome and victimized. He said, “I was punished in 1997 for the suspicion of having my sons avoid compulsory military service, and in 2002, my victory in the election was stolen by scoundrels.” He must be feeling like a forgotten man.
Former President Kim Dae-jung is highly respected. Former President Kim Young-sam is respected by Lee Myung-bak. Park Geun-hye is well-liked by her fellow party members. But Lee Hoi-chang has been all alone in his office near Namdaemun market. The people can imagine how he must feel. But what’s more important is that his decision to run for the presidency based on these emotions will crush his image as a man of integrity, constitutionalism and conservatives unity. His decision to run betrays the blessings that the country has bestowed on him.
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore must know something about feeling victimized. In the presidential election in November 2000, he lost to George. W. Bush by 0.006 percent point in Florida. He would have become the president if the Federal Supreme Court had not stopped hand counting ballots. He was 52 years old then. There is about a 1-percent chance that Americans of his age with an annual income of $170,000 do not invest in stocks, and Gore was in that 1 percent because of his ambition to become president. He once said that an official’s investment in stocks might cause misunderstanding.
Gore was in office when former President Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky. It became known later that when Gore was in his office, Clinton was alone with the young woman nearby. Gore must have become convinced that he was good enough to become the president if measured by his moral values. He was almost there, in fact. But the presidency disappeared right before his eyes. But he stepped back without complaint.
When the 2004 presidential election was coming near, the people turned to Gore. As he had aspired to assume power all his life, it seemed natural that he would run for president. But in December 2002, he announced that he would not run. He said if he competed with Bush again the campaign would inevitably be focused on the past and then they would not focus on the future. By the past, he meant the recounting of votes in Florida, of course. No matter what he thought or felt deep inside his heart, his actions were very impressive.
The Washington Post wrote that by casting aside his ambition to assume power, Gore became a more important and stronger politician who can do much more for the country and the people.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize this year for his efforts to spread awareness of global warming. He may run in the 2008 presidential election. There are supporters who are trying to entice him to do so. But for now, he is keeping his promise. Even if he runs for office again, he has no suspicions to clear, like his sons avoiding military duty, or receiving carloads of bribes or illegal funding for his campaign.
Lee Hoi-chang says that conservatives face a crisis and risk losing a chance to assume power, but the support rate for Lee Myung-bak hasn’t changed. The BBK suspicions have come up but nothing has been proved. Thus, there is no good reason for Lee Hoi-chang to run for the presidency. If he announces his decision to do so, the suspicions about his sons, bribery and illegal funding will come back at him again. That will do more harm to the country than reliving the Florida incident would have done to the United States.
Lee Hoi-chang probably thinks his feelings of being treated unfairly or being victimized are more important than those past incidents. But he is not the one who feels truly victimized. The true victims are the people who supported him twice and failed to see their candidate assume power.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin