When You Win, Win with Grace. When You Lose, Lose with Style!
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 11, 2008
When you win, win with grace. When you lose, lose with style. At least one Blue camp leader and one Green camp leader have made the above point. In each case, their emphasis was on the word "lose." Just before the court handed down its ruling on the Kaohsiung Mayoral Election lawsuit, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu said politicians may lose, but they must not be sore losers. Beautifully put. So beautifully put some people wondered if Chen Chu knew the court's ruling in advance. Taichung Mayor Jason Hu of the Kuomintang made the same remark when he criticized politicians for dirty tricks. He said, "When you win, win with grace. When you lose, lose with style."
During the upcoming Presidential Election, both sides are determined to win. So why has "losing" become a topic? It is not because the Blue camp has maintained its lead over the Green camp in the polls. It is because the DPP has made a series of radical policy shifts, and the Hsieh camp has resorted to a string of desperate election tactics. Some of these tactics are so underhanded they don't even deserve to be called "tactics." Not just political observers, but even the man in the street have begun to sense an atmosphere of desperation within the Green camp.
Since the odor of defeat is beginning to permeate the atmosphere, why not think about how to lose gracefully?
The notion that Hsieh may lose is not the result of any such intimations from the Blue camp. It is the result of anxiety and confusion within the Green Camp. The most recent example was Lo Wen-chia's remark: "The DPP lost [the Legislative Election] on January 12, 2000. It cannot win [the Presidential Election] on March 22. The DPP's next opportunity will be four years from now."
But Lo Wen-chia's words were the lamentations of DPP renegade. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party is preparing for battle. It is counting on its monopoly over government resources. Its behavior is so erratic, it obviously no longer cares about its image. On the one hand is frantically trading "Benefits of the Week" for votes, including amnesty for Taiwan businessmen and relaxed ceilings for mainland investments. It is even accelerating the adoption of controversial development plans. Aside from currying favor with targeted voters, the DPP can offer no logical explanation for repudiating the policies it has clung to for the past eight years. Nor can it offer any assurances that it will deliver on its promises. The DPP's behavior smacks of sheer desperation.
Serious charges have been leveled against the DPP, the most serious of which involve a string of scandals. The DPP is suspected of emptying out the nation's coffers. First, the Chen regime ordered the Ministry of Defense to invest in Taiwan Goal, a "private sector company" in which the government owns less than half the shares. Next, it allowed the Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corp (SSAC) to acquire vast amounts of government assets at fire sale prices. Next, it allowed assets to be diverted from the Grand Hotel. Recently more cases have been uncovered in which certain individuals have been acting as "middlemen" for overseas investments. The specifics may differ, but all involve the transfer of wealth out of the state treasury into the pockets of shadowy figures. These companies were less than 50% government-owned. The ruling DPP relied on this loophole to fend off legislative oversight, even though the government was paying through the nose. What happened next was even more unspeakable. Witnessing the DPP's frantic efforts to empty the state coffers, one thinks of rats deserting a sinking ship, and stealing everything not bolted down in the process.
The strangest thing about all this is not the corruption. Corruption has long been a trademark of the Chen Shui-bian regime. What boggles the mind is the frantic "take the money and run" mood -- the air of impending doom. The DPP senses it will soon have to step down, and isn't bothering to pretend otherwise. The Chen Shui-bian regime isn't bothering to wage an election campaign. Instead, it is accelerating the rate at which it is emptying out the state coffers. It is, for all intents and purposes, conducting an "anti-campaign." Hsieh's campaign, meanwhile, has become more and more ridiculous. Hsieh began by advocating "reconciliation and coexistence," and by rejecting negative campaigning. But now he is attacking his opponent's daughter for attending a private school, and accusing his opponent's wife of stealing newspapers. He even trotted out fringe supporters willing to publicly slander Ma's family. These supporters included one "Professor Chang," who appeared with his face covered, and one "Mr. X," who appeared with a paper bag over his head. Even the Hsieh camp was embarrassed by such tactics. His campaign committee denied all responsibility and accused the Ma camp of authoring the tabloid smear stories and CDs on its own. The Green camp's dirty tricks have misfired badly. Could this be because the writing is already on the wall?
Hu said losers should lose gracefully. Admittedly he said this because KMT candidates were being smeared and his blood was up. Chen Chu, confident she would win the election lawsuit, held forth about "not being sore losers." Wasn't the idea to set higher standards for future elections? Wasn't everyone hoping that a mayoral candidate who won by a mere 1,000 votes would behave a little more graciously?
Political figures can't always expect to win and never lose. Naturally one celebrates when one has won. But suppose one loses? How does one lose with style? For that matter, how does one sow the seeds of a future victory? That is something worth thinking about.
If the DPP wins this battle, will it win with grace? Conversely, if it loses this battle, shouldn't the DPP give some thought to Lo Wen-chia's observation: "The DPP's next opportunity will be four years from now?"
2008.03.11 02:09 am