Friday, July 28, 2006

Alexander Haig Redux - Mexican Election Post #16

When Ronald Reagan was shot, soon after he took over as President, Alexander Haig made the outrageous claim that he was "in charge" supposedly to calm the country. Haig was an odd figure in American history. He was a general who ventured into politics but who simply did not understand either the Constitutional or political implications of his new role. I am not sure how good a general he was but he was a lousy politician. I was reminded of Haig by MALO this week. MALO and Haig have a lot in common - although one was a victim of his background and the other is a victim of his ego. Neither serves the political system well.

Despite all of the evidence to the contrary MALO declared himself to be president this week. This was a close election. But there is not a lot of doubt that a) the election was clean and b) that MALO lost. But that does not seem to matter to the Messianic Master of Mexican Politics. He tought he should win - so he declares he did. MALO does not listen to anyone and is very skilled like other demagogues in defining the issue in his terms and ignoring all the evidence to the contrary.

Haig may simply have been a bumbling idiot in the situation in 1981. He thought he understood an opportunity and thought that an assertion of authority would "calm" the country. That is the kindest explanation of his behavior. MALOs motivation is a bit different. When you start from a messianic notion you have the same kind of misjudgments that Haig did. Unfortunately, some portion of the Mexican people are falling for MALOs activities.

Haig tried to backstep after his gaffe. After his announcement he commented he wasn't really trying to steal power. He said "I wasn’t talking about transition. I was talking about the executive branch, who is running the government. That was the question asked. It was not, ‘who is in line should the President die?’" Nonsense. He was trying to sieze the moment.

In many democracies today there are groups on the left and the right who believe all sorts of conspiracy theories. The explanations you still hear about the 2000 election in the US are a good example. The conspiracists think that somehow, Jeb Bush and the Supreme Court of the US conspired to steal the election from Al Gore. In Mexican history, partly because of the events surrounding the 1988 election, there is a slightly stronger base for this kind of thinking. But what MALOs supporters (and MALO himself) fail to recognize is that 2006 is not 1988. In this election, there was a real primary system - Fox actually did not get his first choice for the PAN. There was also an electoral commission that ran a clean election. MALO does not want to see that evidence.

Haig eventually faded into the sunset after trying to recover his political career. He was part of a Simpsons episode (with Bart wearing a Haig for President sweatshirt) and was part of a Pink Floyd lyric. Agnew actually claimed that Haig was prepared to knock him off if he did not resign. Let's hope that sometime soon MALO and Haig can get together and wonder why people like them should not lead.

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