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[Editorial] Arrogant Candidates and Drifting Public Support

[Editorial] Arrogant Candidates and Drifting Public Support

Posted August. 25, 2007 03:26,   


A Dong-A Ilbo and Korea Research Center joint poll showed that Grand National Party (GNP) presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak commands a 56.6% approval rating, and the GNP a 58.2% rating. The survey was conducted on Monday right after the party nominated Lee as its official presidential candidate. What the poll indicates is the desire of the public for the advancement of South Korea and its dissatisfaction with the socialist Roh administration.

Both the GNP and Lee should be willing to do whatever it takes to meet the hopes of South Koreans. If something gets in the way, they should root it out, even if it goes against “private” interests. Arrogant, authoritarian behavior of the campaigners, for example, does not help either the party or the candidate at all. Proud Koreans tend to not tolerate the uncurbed behavior of politicians. Whenever they have felt they were treated rudely, they have retaliated through cast of vote.

When asked whether to agree to senior GNP member Lee Jae-oh’s “retreat” from the current leading role, candidate Lee told reporters Thursday, “If anyone says no to Lee, the person is saying no to me.” Candidate Lee seems to tell us that we have no option. We have to support whatever he does as to Lee Jae-oh. In that case, can we withdraw our support for him? Is he that arrogant? Lee’s remarks are driving people away from him.

Lee Jae-oh had led Lee’s campaign during the primary. Lee Jae-oh, however, has faced tough opposition against him since the nomination. Many people voice concerns that Lee Jae-oh’s presence would not bring candidate Lee the presidency. The opposition has sound grounds. Lee Jae-oh did almost nothing to win over GNP delegates. Former GNP presidential contender Park Geun-hye commanded an overwhelming loyalty from them. Nonetheless, Lee Jae-oh has showed an arrogant rudeness. Recently, for example, he said on a radio talk show that he does not know the meaning of a “second-tier” position.

Lee Jae-oh said yesterday, “Real harmony comes from self-criticism.” The word “self-criticism” may sound humiliating to those who lost the primary. Candidate Lee’s camp badly needs Park’s endorsement. But what the camp has done so far does not appear attractive to Park. Park showed fairness, officially conceding the primary and helping Lee maintain his post-primary position. Park does not deserve this rude treatment.

South Korean political leaders have favored the “inner-circle” politics, which is based on the “handy” loyalty of followers. Inner-circle politics blurs the eyes of the leader, pushing a huge wedge between the leader and the public. Politicians should learn a lot from former GNP leader Lee Hui-chang, the two-time loser in the presidential election.

The presidential race is yet to start in earnest. The opposing party has not selected its candidate yet. Lee has a long way to go. It’s not the time to pop up the champagne, basking in high approval ratings.