The return of the dissident

Having a computer with a huge memory would help one store the innumerable statements uttered by our loquacious politicians, and thus to compare and evaluate them. But before taking this step, one should bring oneself to a reluctant acknowledgement: The remarks made by politicians – especially those who are reduced to wordy and often self-contradictory television appearances – do have meaning, logic, and purpose, and they are not plain sophistries aimed at causing a stir. Politicians’ professional acquaintance with double-speak, hyperbole and plain trickery is so blatant that seeing through their intentions is a task so easy as to be meaningless. For example, what is the point of criticizing Theodoros Pangalos for wild vacillations or populist rhetorical flourishes when PASOK’s new electoral campaign chief has come to believe that this is the only way to make himself heard, that this is the only way he can claim his share of news headlines. It is like accusing a proud professed cynic of being cynical. There was little doubt that Pangalos’s return to prominence in a party whose leadership he had vehemently attacked until recently, and his promotion to the head of its election campaign would fail to elevate the standards of a low-quality campaign. To be embraced by his comrades, Pangalos must take his rhetorical outbursts a step further. Flinging verbal vitriol at New Democracy (he will definitely save some for the Left, as he has often done in the past), are a sort of antidote for his still-vivid attacks on PASOK leader Costas Simitis. Once again, he exaggerates in the hope of having his past hyperboles forgiven. And thereby Pangalos has achieved the impossible: He has harmed his party both by his stint as the (internal) opposition and now as election campaign chief.