“Politics is politics” and all the fun little quotes you can find on the internet about the maleficent art. There are very few politicians or governments that aren’t embroiled in some scandal or backdoor deal. But then there are certain corrupt political acts which are so outrageously shameful that they lift themselves above the rest and become national embarrassments.
This is what happened in America during the George W. Bush and Dick Cheney administration in regards to the Iraq War, a conflict which was started based largely on confabulations and personal interest. And this is what is happening now in Brazil, for much the same motives, as President Dilma Rousseff appoints former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as Cabinet Chief, giving him legal immunity precisely at the time when investigations on major corruption scandals had begun targeting him.
Just as I was embarrassed for America at the point in history, I am now embarrassed for Brazil. And just as many foreign countries rightfully showed their disdain for America at the time, many in the world again join in its admonishment of Dilma’s blatantly disgraceful actions.
However, what strikes me most about these parallels is how I have been stuck living through both of them. The resemblances are revolting:
- America was mostly divided at the start of the Bush administration (with an approval spike following his swift actions after 9/11) and then mostly against him. In Brazil, the country’s support for Dilma (mostly due to her riding off of the Lula administration) became an even split before turning very much against her.
- Bush and Cheney used their political clout to boldly lie to the American people on national television about their reasoning for starting the Iraq war. Dilma and Lula have used their political clout to boldly lie to the Brazilian people on national television about why Lula is receiving a lofty government position.
- Former president Bush was just the mouthpiece while Cheney pulled his strings. President Dilma is just the mouthpiece while former president Lula pulls her strings.
Needless to say, the déjà vu feeling is not a good one.
The dynamic duos have proven to be the same. They are less concerned about the citizens and the country as they are in keeping their control of power and executing their personal agendas.
When President Dilma gave her speech today, officially announcing Lula’s cabinet post, it was slap in the face of the Brazilians who had come out in the millions to protest against her government on March 15th, and the many millions more who were not in the streets but stand firmly against the current government and general corruption in the country.
Her speech was angry and indignant, and she sounded stronger, firmer and more cogent than in her usual ramblings. She described the actions of those probing her administration and former president Lula’s actions as a coup. She also made it clear that she was not willing to stand down in light of all these accusations, and those present applauded her.
In the midst of this puffed up talk, President Dilma made it clear that she was still very optimistic about Brazil’s capacity to escape the current economic crisis and its corruption scandals. It was all big drama, which I am sure her followers will eat up, and not much different from General Colin Powell’s speech to the UN, trying to make a case for going to war in Iraq, nor the many later speeches given by former president Bush and his administration in defense of the failed war and the weapons of mass destruction that never materialized quite as they should have.
It was, in short, a sad day for Brazil – a day that may change a lot of things in this country. It is really up in the air if it will be for the better or worse. If we go by the result of the Iraq fiasco, I am not as optimistic as Dilma claims to be. Even if her government does fall, what will be left in its wake is not the most pleasant of scenarios. But more importantly, on a personal note, I just won’t be able to get rid of that old déjà vu feeling all over again!!!
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