Slipping image

No one has ever been invulnerable, no matter what protection they receive from their staff, no matter how many walls their admirers and flatterers try to erect around them, whether of their own volition or in the course of duty. When someone enacts policy, particularly from a prominent position, it is neither possible nor ethical for that person to be immune. The New Democracy administration has often given the impression that its officials’ main concern is not governing (despite the monotonous pronouncements about rebuilding the state) but protecting the prime minister’s image, which they see as a their only political capital (no doubt as a result of self-knowledge). In order to protect that capital, we have on countless occasions heard that the prime minister is «displeased» with a certain minister, or «irritated» or «angry» with this or that action or statement by an official. Systematic rumor-mongering about these sentiments of his (and their escalation from displeasure to anger) is aimed at raising a shield in front of the prime minister so that any blame falls on those under him while he is only credited with what is positive. However, as no one ever became a minister or general secretary on one’s own, or had extra power placed in one’s inexperienced hands, and because only the prime minister signs documents assigning those powers (particularly in March 2004 for the Culture Ministry), it is only to be expected that he himself (and not just his image) should be affected. The Public Issue poll showing that 50 percent of the people believe Karamanlis bears a share of personal responsibility for the Zachopoulos affair and that 30 percent of New Democracy supporters believe the scandal is a political one, makes that quite clear.