The joke about the obsessively doting mother comes to mind.
Watching her son parade with rows of fellow troops, she notices he is on his left foot when they are all on the right.
“Why are they out of step?” she asks.
So it is with Noynoy Aquino. The nation is turning against him, yet he shouts to the heavens that he is right and the country is wrong.
Mothers can get away with that sort of thing. Presidents and their parties get shellacked.
The street polls showing that Aquino is now considered the worst president since World War II offers him no silver lining. There were 10 choices and the voting wasn’t close — he got the highest “worst” vote, 33 percent, with Joseph Estrada the next worst, at 28 percent.
Gloria Arroyo, routinely mocked as a disaster, drew only 8 percent. Even Ferdinand Marcos did better, seen as the bottom of the barrel by only 13 percent of those surveyed. And we know how Marcos’ tenure ended.
Too bad the Philippines didn’t come to its senses sooner. Indeed, the street poll shows a huge amount of buyers’ remorse, with 45 percent saying Gibo would have been a better president, while only 38 percent think Aquino was the right choice in 2010. Mulligan, anyone?
Let me be clear: Aquino is flirting with disaster. This and other polls show he is losing ground with every group, including some of his own allies.
Most important, clear majorities no longer trust him and no longer believe he is capable of leading the country.
His policies, especially his “anti-corruption” claims, may have sounded good in the beginning, but the accumulation of his failures has eroded his ability to defy political gravity.
That’s what happens when you get caught in too many lies and broken promises about fixing the economy. And don’t underestimate the impact of the global chaos on the Filipino’s sour mood.
Losing the consent of the governed is a profound event, and there is no easy path back to public grace. The one certainty is that Aquino’s angry defiance will dig him a deeper hole.
His taunting of the Opposition and critics in campaign-style events reinforces doubts about his fitness. Absorbed with self-pity and fixated on finding blame, he gives the impression of someone who never considers the possibility he might be part of the problem.
“So sue me,” he said at one point about Opposition claims that he is exceeding lawful authority. “It’s not crazy. It’s not socialism. You know, it’s not, you know, the imperial presidency.”
Some of those, who do intend to sue Aquino, had a telling response about why his caucus would not pass certain bills. “The Philippine people and their elected officials don’t trust [Aquino] to enforce the law,” he said.
Supreme Court decisions voiding the president’s overreach are one example, and the crisis in the southern region is another. By trying to put pressure on the Opposition, and to score votes among liberals, Aquino selectively enforced only parts of the law — and advertised his desire to exempt those who came to his corner.
While it’s clear Aquino will not listen to the public, there is still an outside chance that senior members of his party can persuade him to change course. Their argument would be a simple one: This isn’t working, and if you continue, the Opposition will take the Senate and might well impeach you.
If that doesn’t scare him straight, nothing will.
Writers Note: Thanks go out to the New York Post for this original concept.