The King of Thailand, Turkey, and Mitt Romney

Thailand arrested Surapak Puchaisaeng and charged him with insulting the King of Thailand.  This is considered a serious offense and Puchaisaeng comments on face book brought swift government action.  Puchaisaeng, surprisingly is not unique in Thailand where this charge is handed out like candy.

Fazil Say is an international know pianist and composer.  However, to Turkish authorities he is a criminal who crime is insulting Islam.  (How does one insult an inanimate religion?)  Say has been formally charged and awaits trial.

In a land with no royalty and plenty of religious pluralism, these cases seem weird if not outright backward.  Hello, this is the 21st century.

But are these cases just examples of rejecting modernity or do they represent something else?

Mitt Romney is making a run for President on the basis of rejecting every thing President Obama says or has done.  During the primaries, Mitt endorsed every fundamentalist religious view regardless the potential impact upon women, immigrants or homosexuals.

Why has he done that?

The answer is not clear.  My suspicion is that like Thailand and Turkey, when things get tough, some people do not stand tall.  It is much easier to pander than to move forward. The world is a tough place today and global leaders cannot always see the high road from the low one.

The economies of Thailand, Turkey, and the US (as are just about every other country in the world) are struggling.  While none of these economies are the stuff civil violence is made of, they are weak enough to make the population question whether their current government is fit to continue in control.  And one thing about government leaders around the world, no one likes to get kicked out of office.

Stage set, enter the political red meat for the masses.

In Thailand the King is still revered.  Charging someone with insulting the King (and Thailand has charged lots of people recently) is like giving the people “cake”.  The only trouble is that this type of “cake” cannot be eaten.  It is, instead, food for the emotions. The intent is to distract the really hungry citizens.

In Turkey, there are more problems than the economy.  The Kurds, the Syrians, the Israelis, and the usual feuds with the other neighbors have the makings to present situations where second guessing the government is easy.  For the government, playing to the religious masses seeks a quid pro quo.  The Government gives one to the Muslim clerics and they tell the people to vote for the government.  Hmmm.

Romney is caught in just as difficult a spot.  He is trying to unseat the incumbent by trying to make the last four years a referendum on President Obama.  Romney is saying the Obama Presidency has been a failure. On that basis alone, he, Mitt Romney should be elected.

The world is in a sorry state (of course this is relative, but it is less so than during World War II).  The Israli-Palestinian situation is stalemated.  Iran seems still on a path to developing nuclear weapons.  Iraq is a mess and on the verge of getting worse.  Afghanistan will surely return to pre-9/11 status once the US pulls out.  China is becoming a strong Far East power, the first to emerge since WWII.  And at home, the economy is sputtering.  Congress is like a dysfunctional and greedy child.  And according to Romney, this is all the fault of Obama.

As the Presidential campaign grinds through the summer and heats up in September, the spot light needs to be on “this is how I will fix things”.  That applies to both the President and his challenger.  We need not listen to charges like “insulting the Catholic Church” or “attacking religious freedom.

Similarly, “repeal and replace” is not good enough.  “Replace with what” and “at what cost” should be the focal points.

If a good case is made, then maybe Mitt will become President Romney.

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