Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ali Baba enters cave...

...finds it full of thieves.

I find myself failing to grasp the strategic logic of the recent round of Democratic Party Acting President Kan Naoto's speeches on the temporary gasoline levy. First he goes before a crowd of made men paid up members of the Road Tribe from the provinces and is booed heartily. Today he takes on a gibbering baboon the comedian-turned-governor Higashikokubaru Hideo and Aso Wataru, the governor of Fukuoka Prefecture and Chairman of the National Governors Association in a gentlemanly discussion of local finances and the road tax.

Excuse me, but we are not in college here. This is not the Oxford Debating Society. This is real life...and in real life the last thing you give to desperate, conniving fraudsters is your microphone.

Kan has sufficient star power to dominate the debate by himself. His goal in his appearances (and I can only think his innate decency prevents him from knowing it) should be to starve his opponents of every molecule of available oxygen and every iota of the attention of every journalist he can stuff into his schedule.

Why he is letting the provincials stand or sit alongside him as equals? If the point of the DPJ's argument is that these guys in the ugly suits are flim-flam artists, why is Kan giving them the least chance to muddle the discourse, weave their dark spells and purloin the public purse all over again?

The DPJ's sense of fairness, often purported to be the linchpin of its appeal, is really its greatest weakness.

Chōja no Ana - Kofun Era lateral burial site
Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture
March 3, 2006


Anonymous said...

But can the DPJ really compete on ruthlessness? One could make the case that Judo is the way to go. Or at least some contrast with the 1955 System.

MTC said...

willie -

The Democrats already have the advantage of a big lead in the polls. They have no need to try to convert anyone--all they have had to do is play defense, reinforcing the views of the people already converted.

Jiujitsu is necessary when one is trying to use the strength of another, more powerful person against that person. It is perilous to employ when one's goal is to make use of one's strength. Indeed, it gives opponents an ability to counterattack with jiujitsu of their own.

Prime Minister Koizumi and the Koizumi Korps understood the principle of taking up all the oxygen in a room. Once they had the public behind them on an issue, they would make every effort to be the news, leaving no space for the opposition to even stand on.

"It's not just winning, it's how you win that matters," is a fine philospophy for elite schoolboys on a school athletics field. For a party fighting for the the people against the crapulous special interests who will stop at nothing, providing for a level playing field is a dereliction of duty.

Anonymous said...


I'm sure you've seen more of this political theatre than I have, but my take is the LDP hacks come across looking like nasty suits with no concern for commoners. The contrast on TV when they have politicians from various parties is rather stark. The LDPers might look okay if they can drum up some bogus terror, but that's about it. That being said, it's perfectly fine to deprive an opponent of oxygen. But the DPJ hasn't really had its act together on the gas tax itself, so all they can say is the LDP is worse.

In any case, we don't really disagree. I'm just not sure that this particular example is a case of being too nice to win. And I'm not sure that the DPJ cadre is of the same caliber as the one around Koizumi.