The same old cliches

Prime Minister George Papandreou seems to be suffering from a distinct lack of imagination, as though, like his predecessor, he has grown weary, not of the job itself but of the magnitude of the responsibility of setting himself and his subordinates to work. This is why he keeps reiterating all of his old cliches, except the one that earned him the election: about rolling up his sleeves. Instead of that old favorite, he went for this: «We are radicals who have come into power. We are not here to enjoy the fruits of office, but to change the country.» Hearing him speak, his so-called «citizens’ protection» minister pondered making a few pre-emptive arrests but, thankfully, before succumbing to the temptation, he remembered that he too once boasted of having radicals as friends (obviously he meant his fellow ministers) and so gave Papandreou his cue to use another favorite: «They will chase us away with stones if we don’t sort the country out.» Either he means this metaphorically or he hasn’t understood the gravity of his words; if he had he would be more cautious about repeating this prophecy so often. The prime minister also added a new line to his repertory, stirring in his audience, the people in his party, either with deep discomfort or emotion. He said that he would step in personally if need be. With this statement he revealed his confidence in his international stature (the same confidence that allowed him, as the president of Socialist International, to tell off his vice president in that institution, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak). The prime minister of any country is great capital and should not be expended on trifling matters. He should not, for example, need a photo op at the heroic demolition of an already crumbling nightclub on the Attica coast. But Papandreou was not referring to a trifling matter, which is why he offered his services as though he were paying his voters – his people – an honor. He was talking about the war that needs to be fought, with his personal involvement, against the slashing by half of pensions. Who cares that such a demand was never made by the European Union, something the premier must have known? Who cares that he won a battle that was never fought? A long time ago, Andreas Papandreou would attempt to put one over on NATO by adding a little asterisk at the bottom of every agreement. Isn’t the progress we’ve made obvious?