Less idle criticism

Watching the transformation of certain politicians who have retired from the political front and air their views in social gatherings or occasionally even to newspapers can be very amusing. I hear, for example, many defenders of the Costas Simitis administration, among them close associates of the former premier, talking about the diffidence of social security reform and I wonder if they have forgotten the way in which Simitis withdrew his support from his responsible minister back in his day, and this at a time when he didn’t have to suffer mass protests. There is no doubt that Simitis was a very serious prime minister. I personally believe that he was equal to, if not better than, Andreas Papandreou. I know this will make the latter’s fans cringe, but a good performance on a podium is one thing and a good performance in the prime minister’s seat is another. Nevertheless, I would like – and I am sure many others would too – to hear an explanation from Simitis and his closest aides as to why they failed to take bold initiatives on certain crucial matters. Why did they pull out of the debate on social security reform so fast without putting up any fight? Why did they not deal with the problems in education? Why didn’t they crack down on corruption? The answer to some of these questions is that only so much can be done at once in a country like Greece. But this same argument also negates any criticism that can be brought against the current administration, which may very well go home every night mumbling, «This is Greece.» What we expect from that handful of politicians who want to be seen as veteran leaders or statesmen is self-criticism for the mistakes they have made and the truths that cannot be confessed by their active peers. We would like less idle criticism and more real political discourse.

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