Hares in the House

It’s not a bad thing for politicians to use sayings, even if they nearly always introduce them with the phrase «as the people say;» for example, when they seek to exempt themselves from the humble masses while also supposedly honoring them by invoking popular wisdom. The bad thing, though, is when politicians’ arguments are exhausted with two or three sayings fired at their opponents in a display of scorn. Showing a soft spot for Aesop, a dozen deputies from both mainstream parties told fables, not any fables but those starring the naive, cocky and faint-hearted hare. There was nothing cute about their anecdotes. They were all about scoffing at political foes. The truth is that the three-day parliamentary debate sparked by opposition PASOK’s censure motion against the government turned out to be an exercise in contempt and derision. No doubt, the legendary «political culture,» which politicians claim to serve each time they violate its principles, should not lead to self-censorship, nor should it squeeze humor out of Parliament. On the other hand, the government would better refrain from calls for humility and moderation in the future. It took less than three years for some New Democracy ministers to reach levels of arrogance that their PASOK counterparts only displayed after two and three terms in power. The blatant feeling of arrogance which comes from the conviction of a comfortable victory in the coming elections is perhaps a challenge as big for the ruling conservatives as it is for the opposition itself. (For its part, PASOK needs something more than a censure motion to rally its fighting forces.) C.P. Cavafy wrote about an arrogant Darius drunk on power. His poems, it seems, are not in our politicians’ libraries.