Better crows than flatterers
So there we have it. «Costas Simitis is the first Greek prime minister to deal on equal terms with Europe’s other prime ministers. It’s the first time this has occurred in modern history. Neither Venizelos nor Karamanlis nor Papandreou enjoyed this privilege.» What politician is behind this sober and brave evaluation, dethroning the pantheon of these three figures for Simitis’s sake? No one else, of course, but the ever-modest Yiannos Papantoniou who, having triumphed in the domain of economics, is now exalted as the leader of our armed forces – an office which gave him the opportunity to do the exact opposite of what he believed and said in public during his previous post. Let’s assume that partisan commitment and his rush to acknowledge the pre-eminence of his superior prevented Papantoniou from recognizing the European prestige of Constantine Karamanlis in the post-1974 period, even posthumously. But how can he go as far as to snub the stature of Eleftherios Venizelos (whom PASOK has, from its birth, portrayed as one of its patriarchs)? How is it possible that one can be officially honored as a father of the nation while, at the same time, being evaluated as a low-caliber politician? Notably, even Papandreou did not «deal with Europe’s other prime ministers on equal terms» but rather was subordinate, even though PASOK’s elite (Papantoniou included) insisted at the time that «thanks to Papandreou, Greece finally has a strong say.» Did the minister follow his own remarks or was he blinded by his urge for flattery? «Better to fall in with crows than flatterers, for in the one case you are devoured when dead, in the other while still alive,» the philosopher Antisthenes said. And right he was, even if, in this case, the dead and the living were equally unfortunate. If these are the critical skills of our rulers, we must concede that «this stint is never-ending»: the stint of disappointment.