Prowling through a reread of Tom Clancy’s novel “Red Storm Rising”, I was struck by his description of the Russian power complex of the 1980’s. The Red empire was no longer run by an individual strong man like Stalin, but by committees and commissioners in which the President was mainly a public face, for his hands were tied by all the deals he struck to become the President. The country was actually run by whoever could muster the most support in the conference rooms of the influential.
Clancy’s most worthy observation was that the President’s power was constrained by all the compromises he had to make to become President.
It is a characterization that fits well in Philippine democracy where the driver is not public service but collectives of self-interest and power.
President Aquino is more puppet than master, making compromises to this influential group or that: the Catholic Church, big business oligarchs, military leaders, the US of A, public perception as measured by polls, family and personal friends.
Those who would criticize President Aquino’s goof-ups or flip-flops or weak decisions are wasting their energy. It would be wiser to criticize the influential forces that motivate him, or else band together with others to form a new influential force. You can shout all you want into the face of Elmer Snerd, but he is just a well-carved hunk of wood with a human’s hand in his back. The puppet himself is immune to criticism.
If you try to attack “Willing Willie” the person, you become water off the duck’s flamboyant back feathers. His super-sized Ego protects him. However, if you attack the influential forces behind him – the advertisers of the show – things happen. Willie’s Ego can’t defend against that.
The President of the Philippines is just a cog in the democratic machine. He is not the gas pedal or the brake or the steering wheel. As a cog, he is made of stout material, rust free. He is good for the Philippines.
Those who bluster in frustration and bludgeon the President with words fail to see how the system works. These critics are naïve’ and ineffective, the very same weaknesses they ascribe to President Aquino.
They would get more done by going after the puppeteers . . . the drivers . . . the influences behind the President. Given their self-proclaimed insight, these critics ought to have a better grasp of the dynamics that make the Philippine presidency what it is.
Even predecessor Arroyo bowed to the puppeteers: her husband, the Church, President Obama, and eventually a group of Senators who would not countenance her messing with the Constitution.
Critics of the President generally don’t have a clue about how to effect change in the Philippines. They are just flapping their gums in the wind, beating madly on a big windmill with small twigs, whistling Dixie in Georgia.