Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Back in August 2015, the Curmudgeon likened the political situation in Brazil to the 1973 film epic “High Plains Drifter” starring Clint Eastwood as an anonymous rider who crosses the high plains until reaching Lago, a town threatened by a band of outlaws, whom he defeats. “Planalto” (meaning high plains) is synecdoche for the Brazilian government; Brasília, where outlaws teem, borders the artificial “Lago Paranoá”.
The Curmudgeon wrote that Brazil needed a High Plains Drifter to replace Dilma as President and lay waste to the outlaws besieging the Lago. Furthermore, he suggested a candidate — Michel Temer, then Dilma’s Vice President, who had said, explicitly and correctly, that Brazil desperately needed someone to unify it.
It was then (and still is) clear to everyone that Dilma was (and still is) incapable of unifying Brazil. After losing the 2014 election, PSDB proceeded to lose all its credibility as a unifying force by voting against austerity programs it had previously championed. The Presidents of both Houses of Congress were (and still are) under investigation for criminal activities.
Who was left? PMDB’s Michel Temer, a constitutional law professor and longtime legislator, known for working with all sides of the political spectrum. He was President of Congress three separate times, including when PSDB was in power. He’s been drifting over the High Plains for 30 years, so he knows who the outlaws are, where their hideout is and how well it’s defended.
The Curmudgeon then suggested that Dilma resign the Presidency to make way for Temer. Stubborn as always, she chose to confront the impeachment apocalypse which has now put her out to pasture and let Temer drift into her office, put his name plate on the door and take down all the pictures of Lula adorning the halls of power.
The Curmudgeon is, today, more than a little worried that Brazil has leapt from the frying pan into the fire.
The frying pan was the “bolivarian” neo-socialist leftist rhetoric where the Brazilian government owes all Brazilians a living. The fire is the neo-conservative rightist rhetoric where the Brazilian government owes banks and big corporations a return on their investment. In both cases, citizens and taxpayer are being asked not to worry about where the money has come from nor how it was obtained.
The Temer Cabinet resembles something from the 1920’s and 30’s in the United States — rich stodgy white men wearing suits and ties. Worse yet, many are currently under investigation for criminal activities. While a few Cabinet members seem to be technically competent, the vast majority, just as in the bad old Lula/Dilma days, are political hacks with no qualifications for the job.
Just how Temer expects to unify a country whose population is more than fifty percent Negro and more than fifty percent female, while relying on the advice of 23 elite well-trousered cronies is not apparent. If he can’t, there is a possibility that a few Senators will change their vote and that Dilma will not be convicted.
The Curmudgeon will issue more “presidential” smidgens as often as they occur to him.