I did not know whether to be charmed, appalled or frightened last night when the television networks asked Prime Minister Asō Francisco Tarō to give his explanation of why the voters rejected his party. This was an hour after NHK, an aggressive holdout, had broken down and allowed its ticker of seats won by the Democratic Party of Japan to exceed 241, joining the other networks (except, unsurprisingly, Fuji TV) in recognizing that the DPJ had won control of the House of Representatives.
Despite being fully aware that his Liberal Democratic Party had fallen from power, Prime Minister Asō began going through the main points of his party's elections manifesto...and not just once, either. In interview after interview, he outlined how well-thought out the LDP's policy program is. He seemed incapable of processing the idea that his party's election promises were defunct, a subject for historians and non-fiction writers.
He was still in campaign mode -- in an scary semi-delusional way.
Francisco needs a rest. I hope they let him have one. He will go down in history as the man led the LDP into the political wilderness...and not just into the wilderness but into the wilderness with a kilo of buckshot in its backside. He will suffer greatly for this. For all his many faults, the least of which is an undisciplined tongue, Asō Tarō clearly loves his country, "warts and all" as the saying goes. I wish him well.
As for the night's other losers, I will probably miss only Kamei Hisaoki, the secretary-general of the People's New Party. Of all the politicians who appeared regularly on television, he alone always made sense, calling upon the better nature of his fellow politicians (a hopeless task) and his fellow citizens (a much easier row to hoe). I hope the networks will continue to have him comment on the day's affairs, so that we continue to hear the voice of one of the truly rare advocates of simple human decency.
As for the undeserving winners, well, there is small band of them -- and not all or even many of hail from within the LDP. Tsujimoto Kiyomi, a convicted felon who faked the existence of a secretary on her Diet accounts, won a district seat (OK, so it was in Osaka - proving there is no accounting for taste). No matter how many times I might have this result explained to me, I am certain I will not understand it.
As for another example of the happy underserving, well, I once heard it said that if Armageddon came, and destruction rained down upon the world, the last things to survive would be rats, cockroaches and Cher. I am fairly certain now that this formulation is incorrect. If Armageddon really comes, and destruction rains down upon the world, the last things to survive will be rats, cockroaches and Suzuki Muneo.
As for the question I asked the other day, the Wall Street Journal is saying that the DPJ leadership is going to ask former party leader Ozawa Ichirō to take charge of the party's 2010 House of Councillors campaign. It is going to be hard enough to keeps the hounds of the press -- many of whom have just lost their raison d'être as the lapdogs of a particular ruling party politician -- from continuously harrassing prime minister apparent Hatoyama Yukio over the fraudulent assignment of donor names to phoney donations to his political campaign fund. To have Ozawa in the Cabinet and the legal troubles of his closest aide clogging up the airwaves would be just too much for the new government to handle.