Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Well, Catalan Prime Minister Pasqual Maragall has announced that he will accept the resignation of his erstwhile number two, "conseller en cap" Josep Lluis Carod-Rovira. However, Carod will not be expelled from the Cabinet; he's been demoted to minister without portfolio. Catalunya TV calls Maragall's decision "Solomonic". I think that means he couldn't figure out what the hell to do and he picked the worst option: he did something that is going to please nobody.

Look, what this guy did was hold a secret meeting with two wanted terrorists with no authority to do so. He went off on his own thinking he could make some kind of peace deal, without considering the rest of Spain. And if the deal is what the Madrid daily ABC says--that Carod was trying to swap a local ETA ceasefire in Catalonia for political support of ETA's political objectives--that is morally repugnant. In some countries it's called treason.

So if you're Maragall, you have two choices open to you. You take the moral high ground and fire his ass, or you take the political low ground and say he was just trying to make peace and slap him on the wrist while backing him against the attacks he's under. What you don't do is shilly-shally, flip-flop, dither, vacillate, and play with your dingaling while your subordinate is negotiating with terrorists on his own account.

Here's the latest scoop, straight from Catalunya TV. Carod-Rovira spoke at his party headquarters about half an hour ago. He didn't mention anything about his getting busted down to buck private cabinet minister. In fact, he was less than contrite. He seemed to be quite proud of his attempt at "seeking peaceful solutions", and he counterattacked the PP, saying that they were orchestrating a campaign of hate. He pointed out that PP leaders had met with ETA back in 1998 (which is true, but they were the governing party then and it was up to them to decide what to do on the terrorist issue), and wondered why he couldn't do the same thing. And then Carod became defiant and demagogic, saying that the people of Catalonia should decide whether he had done the right thing and not the PP. Therefore, he will head the party's list in Barcelona province in the March 16 general elections. He's going to try to turn the election into a referendum on himself and his actions.

I should point out that Carod's party currently holds one seat in the Congress of Deputies in Madrid. Polls taken right after the regional election, while they were riding high, allotted them a possible three seats. That is highly unlikely, but I had figured (before this fiasco) that the Republican Left had a good chance at pulling out two seats on election day. Now what? If he wins the seat in Parliament, does he resign as cabinet minister in the Catalan regional government? Or does he say that's a mandate for him to go back to his "conseller en cap" position just like before?

I say what we all do is make sure his goddamn party doesn't win any fucking seats at all. Turn out, turn out, to arms! Vote PP. Vote CiU. Vote Socialist. Don't vote Communist--let's not go that far. But vote for anyone reasonable instead of this joker.

Oh, well, this is great. The Socialists look like bigger schmucks than they did before, and I thought that was impossible. They are going to get slaughtered in March, and Carod is going to cost them votes in Catalonia big time. I will bet that the anti-Carod reaction is stronger than the pro-Carod "he's standing up to the evil government in Madrid" groundswell, and that the PP and CiU will benefit.

This semi-Cataloony friend of mine says that what's going to happen is that Carod will turn into the main man for people who are so infantile that their first reaction to the word "Spain" is "Vade retro, Satanas". They will vote for him as the spokesman against Madrid (a word Carod curiously repeated over and over in his speech as if it were Mordor). So the Republican Left will actually be helped by this mess at the expense of the other leftist parties, especially the Socialists. I don't think I buy it. ETA is so hated by the ordinary Joe that anybody getting too friendly with them is political toast. The only folks who will be attracted to Carod's self-incarnation as the paladin against the Great Evil Black Hole of Madrid are extremists who, all together, don't add up to ten percent of the vote. I can see Carod actually winning a seat, which is something responsible people should most definitely be against.

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