Sunday, October 07, 2012

As Bad As It Ever Was

Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it...ever was.

- Talking Heads, "Once In A Lifetime" (1981)
It's back...along with all the horrible memories.

The Smirk

Check out the flash at 0:13 and the more sustained holding of the expression in the 0:17 to 0:24 interval in the below (time sensitive):


That facial expression that had one leaping out of one's chair and punching the screen, hoping to wipe it off of Abe Shinzo's child of privilege face.

No still photo captures The Smirk in its essence. The below comes close, though.

I like many others have had trouble accepting Abe's victory in the Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election. How could the party's Diet members elect such a smarmy failure to a second term? Of all the five candidates running, he was the least capable and likable by a long shot.

Recently I have thinking that what I thought was a bug is actually a feature.

The members of the LDP's Diet delegation who survived the carnage of August 2009 come in two flavors. One set are the Koizumi Children and reformers, who largely won reelection via the party proportional list. These folks, loyal to the party, sided with Ishiba Shigeru, the brainy candidate with the support of the local chapters. Katayama Satsuki's being seated at Ishiba's right hand during the voting was the physical manifestation of this allegiance.

However, a larger base of LDP delegates who survived the 2009 election had either longstanding family ties to a district and/or an adherence to the most anachronistic of right wing ideologies. For the this group, Abe was the candidate of choice. For the ideologues, he was their most obvious and possibly the richest (I have to check the asset listings -- which are bogus anyway because so many politicians shelter their wealth under the names of near relatives) champion of their values, such as they are.

For the established names, being members of the LDP is icing on their cakes, their hereditary support groups (koenkai) being the source of the margin of victory come election time. For these Diet members the very last person they would want as party president is someone with his own charisma and a cerebrum at the top of his spine. They would want to have the most pliable and manipulable president possible, one who would be grateful for having received their votes, and most likely to answer to their whims and protests.

As one researcher I has told me, individual voters in rural areas justify their choices by saying, "Candidate X I respect but candidate Y I can control. That's why I go with Y."

I do not want to believe that the ticking time bomb of the bond issuance bill will precipitate the forced passage of a slapdash electoral reform bill, legalizing what would be a constitutional black hole of a Diet dissolution, triggering an election where, if current public opinion polls are accurate, the LDP would be returned to power, leading to Abe becoming prime minister.

However, the clock is indeed ticking on the government's ability to finance its activities, making the nightmare return of Abe Shinzo, Mr. Prime Minister, more than just a terribly unfunny joke.

To not see The Smirk every night on my screen, Amaterasu Omikami and all the 8 million kami of this blessed land, of this to you I beg.


Anonymous said...

Your last paragraph: my sentiments exactly.

Bryce said...

Somewhat unrelated to your comment, and I realise that to speak ill of another's illness can be unfair at times. Indeed, a prime minister who becomes infirm in office has every right to cast her responsibilities to his nation aside and resign for the sake of her own health.

Nevertheless, has anybody actually commented on how irresponsible it was for Abe to take the reins of the country knowing that he had a debilitating sickness that would prevent him from doing his job effectively? I know disqualifying politicians on the basis of illness leads us into dangerous territory and inevitable historical comparisons, but it is not as if, say, FDR had to excuse himself from negotiations with other leaders every 30 minutes. Abe's was a preexisting condition, and presumably he knew his limits beforehand. He didn't exactly become ill "on the throne," as it were.

Unless, of course, his reason for resigning was a bunch of crap.

MTC said...

Bryce -

Abe clearly has a sense of historical mission, redeeming and indeed reliving his grandfather's life (I was once at a conference where Abe, in dinner remarks, confused himself with his grandfather and his grandfather's contemporaries, talking about "What WE were trying to do..."). That oppressive need for redemption clearly drives him now, despite the reality that if he prevails in his quest to become prime minister, he will be in a vastly more complex and enervated political situation than he faced in 2006-7.

That being said, Abe and his inner circle have never been truthful for the reason for his sudden resignation and hospitalization. All the evidence points to a collapse into either severe depression or full-blown mania. That he left office not in an ambulance but stuffed in the back of a car, surrounded by SPs, without signing over paramount executive power to anyone indicates he was non compos mentes.

The question no member of the news media has ever had the guts to ask is, "You are in a position to take over the position of prime minister after having quit for health reasons. When will you release your medical records from August-September 2007?"