Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – All of the Curmudgeon’s dedicated readers are wondering how he was so prescient as to preview the échafaud for Palocci, but, somehow, did not foresee that President Dilma was about to tell the Minister of Institutional Articulation that “he” should swap titles with the Ministress of Fishing (yes, Virginia, Brazil has sunk to the level of the Faroe Islands and has, amongst its 38 redundant “ministries” and “secretariats equivalent to ministries”, a Ministry of Fishing, until recently occupied by a politician whose principal qualification for the job was coming in 3rd in a race for governor of the small but unimportant state of Santa Catarina, something like South Carolina).
What earlier bemused the Curmudgeon was, whom would Dilma find to perform the role Palocci had performed for her, i.e. herding cats. The first Polecat to offer himself was no less a personage than Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, once (and future?) President of the Federative Republic of Brasil. He tried in vain to armor-plate his go-to guy (and repeat-offender go-to-crook) Antonio Palocci against the slings and arrows of millions of outraged citizens. Lula failed.
What has Dilma done? First, she’s appointed to the exalted position of Chief of Staff, Gleisi Hoffman, whose German bloodline is clear from her retro blonde hairdo. Next, Dilma has promoted into the even more exalted position of Ministress of Institutional Articulation (we kid you not, that’s the actual title of a Cabinet position, meaning “Chief Cat Herder”) a woman with an equally silly name and equally contumacious demeanor, the erstwhile Ministress of Fishing, “Ideli” something or other, who amongst us can remember surnames?
To put it diplomatically, neither of the Herders is famous for diplomatic prowess, so what do we have in the two cat-herding Ministries, which (not coincidentally) wield the greatest power over the purse-strings of the Government? We have, first and foremost, women Dilma can trust. But herding cats requires knowledge of alchemy, and rhetoric, so that 1 + 1 = 3 need not require corrupt mathematical equations, but political savoir faire.
The problem for Dilma is that PT, which for years was the only political party conscientiously opposed to corruption, has now taken power, and Lord Acton was right—the tendency to corruption has permeated the core of PT. The only “administrative” talents of PT (José Dirceu, José Genuíno, Antonio Palocci) have been shown, to a man, to be corrupt crooks.
Lula has always known this, he promoted those bandits because they were the only possible countervailing power to a PMDB that has been, still is, and forever will be corrupt beyond imagining, and (ergo) runs Brazil. PT ideologues dreamed they could take power with Lula, and effect structural changes, and maintain power. They dreamed they could do so cleanly, but their dreams did not foresee the septic reality of Brazilian politics today. In the PT dreams, only white sheep were counted.
That blanched species is well-nigh extinct in Brazil today. The Curmudgeon believes, for what it’s worth, that Dilma sincerely wishes to embark upon a restoration of the former ideological PT purity. The Curmudgeon wishes her well, but, pace Zardoz, “he has seen the future, and it does not work.”
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, moved here thirty-plus years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)