No more ‘Checkers’ candidates
The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
When it comes to former U.S. President Richard Nixon, many people think of the nonsensical debate with Kennedy or slips of the tongue during the Watergate scandal. But young Nixon had been an agitator of the time. He was called “Tricky Dick” for stirring the voters with McCarthyist political propaganda. The “Checkers” speech pushed him to become the vice president of the United States.
He admitted that he had received $18,000 from supporters but did not use any of it for personal use. The only thing he received personally was a dog. His 6-year-old daughter named it Checkers because it was black and white, and he said his kids loved the dog and they were going to keep it.
Troubled Nixon turned the slush fund allegation into a pet story in a televised speech. The successful formula in advertisement is the three Bs: beauty, beast and baby, to stimulate the emotions. His political tactic was faithful to the formula, and he thrived for a while.
I was reminded of Nixon’s counterstrike as I watched the 20-something good son who had been recruited by the Democratic Party (DP) but was involved in a date rape controversy. The scandal was fizzling, but he rekindled it by claiming that there had been no coercive sexual relationship, and the couple split because the girlfriend cursed at his mother. The former girlfriend refuted the claim and disclosed text message exchanges.
If you look into it, Democratic Party recruitment has been plagued by a number of controversies: an unregistered lawyer, plagiarism, start-ups made for the resume and false claims by judges. Hwang Un-ha’s and Im Jong-seok’s controversies are completely separate. They are too frequent to be considered one-time events for elections, and the only exit is evoking sentiment. It resembles the sentimental public relations (PR) of the Blue House of the Moon Jae-in administration.
While the Wuhan coronavirus crisis is no exception, the Blue House pledges that there would be no compromise for safety and that there would be excessive pre-emptive measures. When a fire broke out in Jecheon, North Chungcheong, the Blue House reported in detail that the president said his job was to listen to their complaints and teared up in the car returning from the site. These words have been said and written, but they cannot change the outcome.
Candidates recruited for the election create controversies one after another. Why? It is because they went for it as a one-time event. The party is seeking young candidates who lived their lives in a way anyone can understand. It is all about drama. Young people in their 20s and 30s not prepared for politics were recruited. The packaging is everything.
They say “systematic nomination,” but no one knows about the system. The party’s recruiting committee is under a veil. It is headed by DP Chairman Lee Hae-chan, but no member has been announced. In this structure of searching and recruiting, it would be hard to deviate from building up the faction.
Of course, new candidates should be elected to the National Assembly to bring a new wave. But seeking people for the story value is populism.
At least, they should know what politics is to have more than a symbolic effect. The 20th National Assembly had the greatest number of candidates recruited for PR. Heroes in the game of baduk, or Go, or venture start-ups were brought together. As a result, it is considered the worst Assembly session.
Politics is a professional career that requires more passion, insight and exemplary behavior than any other profession. Professionalism cannot be built overnight. A dramatic life may help sentimental PR efforts. But if that’s all, the new political blood and politics would suffer together.
The boy in his 20s said that he may not know politics but did not live recklessly. He resembles former Justice Minister Cho Kuk until the last moment.
The party promotes similar talents as its marquee names. The Cho Kuk controversy did not happen without a reason. Nixon rose with sentimental life stories and was ousted while selling sentimental stories.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 8, Page 30