After having been so accommodating for weeks (oh, how they rubbed their hands together, thinking all the while they were accelerating the arrival of the electoral day of reckoning for the Liberal Democratic Party!) the Democrats are waking up to the possibility that they have been played for fools.
Until yesterday, the Democrats believed that Prime Minister Asō Tarō was ready to dissolve the Diet in the waning days of this month, setting up a long-delayed electoral clash on November 30. The only impediments to the implementation of his plan were the financial crisis, the supplementary budget bill and the bill renewing the dispatch of Self Defense Forces ships to the Indian Ocean.
While there was little the Democrats could do to calm the markets, they did resolve to not delay the passage of the two pieces of legislation. The Democrats indeed joined the government in supporting the supplementary budget bill, while resisting the obvious temptation to use delaying tactics to slow down the passage of the renewal legislation.
The eager facilitation of the passage of item after item on the government's agenda prompted the cartoonist at the Sankei Shimbun to caricature a smiling Democratic Party leader Ozawa Ichirō as taking part in a bucket brigade, receiving bucket of legislation after bucket of legislation from Prime Minister Asō -- and passing each on to a shocked Hatoyama Yukio, the DPJ's #2 leader -- an image of Ozawa literally "carrying the water" for the ruling coalition.
Prime Minister Asō Tarō holding a packed suitcase with the words "ASEM Conference : Will Attend" stamped on it and an invitation card with the words "Emergency Financial Summit Called by President Bush" with "Will Attend" circled on it. Behind him are further cards, "APEC Summit : Will Attend/Won't Attend" and "Dissolve House of Representatives Early : Will\Won't." On these neither choice has been circled.
Courtesy: Yomiuri Shimbun, October 22, 2008, morning edition.
The Democratic response: "What the...?"
That it was impossible for both sides to prevail an early election should have set off alarm bells. Someone should have bleated out that while, yes, it was possible that the ruling parties had no clue they were running pell-mell into the Valley of Electoral Death, that it was also possible that the ruling parties were lying when they went through their repertoire of nods, sighs, blinks and winks at every mention of the need for an election in November.
Not that an election cannot happen in November. It just would be damned peculiar for the LDP do be doing the DPJ any favors...and doing the Democrats a favor was at the base of the "quick passage of legislation in return for an early election" quid pro quo.