Monday, August 22, 2011

Roll out the guns

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, anxious about polls showing over 60 percent of Poles unhappy with the government response to the crisis, decided to go on the offensive on Saturday. Literally. The Civic Platform (PO) leader challenged his main rival, opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, to the modern equivalent of a duel: a debate.

Tusk in fact proposed the rather sadistic idea (for followers of the political scene) of holding debates between his ministers and Law and Justice's (PiS) representatives on specific government actions and future plans. The marathon would start, of course, with Finance Minister Extraordinaire Jacek Rostowski, who is willing to take on any opponent, and would finish with the mano-a-mano cage match between Tusk and Kaczynski.

I can only imagine that by Debate 3 the only people watching would be those in prison (no access to the remote control). I can also easily see internet streams of the debates being used by torturers across the globe (if you don't talk, you'll be forced to watch Rostowski debate...).

Tusk's debate idea has two goals. Diverting attention from his government's actions to the fact that the Law and Justice has no real clue what to do in terms of economy if they won is the first.

Sidelining other opposition parties including the post-communist SLD as well as the PO's coalition partner PSL, and again focusing Poles' attention on the (false) dilemma that you have to choose either PiS or PO was his second goal.

Didn't I mention that Tusk's invitation was extremely exclusive and was addressed only to Law and Justice? Yup. Clearly a party has to have at least over 20 percent support nationwide to be worthy of the prime minister's attention and hence only Law and Justice qualifies.

Honestly, I don't know what genius thought of limiting the debate to only Law and Justice (on paper this idea might look smart) but it destroyed the entire plan. Instead of putting pressure on Law and Justice, it gave it an easy way out while at the same time pissing off the SLD, the PSL and anyone who believes Poland is not doomed to never-ending PO-PiS battles.

Moreover, with quotes like "let's be honest, there are only two important parties in this election...," Tusk gave the impression of being an arrogant megalomaniac. Which is to say, he actually acted truly like himself...;)

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