Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Curmudgeon asks his readers: put yourself in President Dilma’s shoes and ponder what you would do if you were President now. You know your political support has almost vanished and is getting worse. You know the economic austerity program (which you personally loathe) has no chance of success without that support.
You also know that the federal investigators are very close to revealing more and more sordid details of the corrupt spoils system begun by former President Lula, and that he has personally enriched himself and his family as a result.
You also know that you have almost no cabinet ministers you can really trust. You increased their number to an absurd 39, and distributed most of them to unqualified incompetent hacks whose bosses promised to support your legislative programs—but they don’t.
Your Minister of Justice, whom you trusted, resigned under heavy pressure from the PT bigwigs who ought to support you but don’t. You let your latest Chief of Staff Jacques Wagner, the Boss of Bahia, choose his successor — and Jacques chose a complete unknown (from Bahia, of course) who’s prohibited from taking the job because he’s a public prosecutor – sheer incompetence.
So, what do you do if you’re Dilma? You offer Lula a position (any position, take your pick) as a cabinet minister! Lula has been trying to run Brazil from behind the scenes ever since he engineered your election and re-election, so you move him to stage front.
In short, you try to abdicate the Presidency in favor of Lula, perhaps because you know he may actually be able to get something done. Unfortunately for you, Lula is no fool and he’s resisting – at least so far.
So, if Lula remains resolute, what do you do? Do you resign and let Vice President Temer do the dirty work? Why not?
The Curmudgeon will emit more dismal columns opportunely.