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The State Romania Is In 19/01/2013

Posted by allthingsro in politics.
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Sibiu, Romania, one day in August in 2012
Many a time have I written, many a time have I said, that Traian Basescu is far from being the ideal president. The man is a champion of inadequacy, a fool with the habit of infuriating everyone, a mixture of sentimentalism and aggression, a brutish type, always in danger of making inappropriate gestures and declarations. For some time, I’ve realised, not without a certain perplexity, that I haven’t read him correctly. His political adversaries have succeeded in convincing me that, defects aside, the man is of almost cosmic proportions. He is the smartest guy in the room, if not the world. From a ruined garage, without a functioning phone, ejected from the presidential palace Cotroceni by the Government, Parliament and a sizeable section of the people, every day Traian Basescu sets the country in motion – and, dare one say, the globe. The European Union is a small sect of suckers, who promptly react to his destabilising manoeuvres. (His own and, of course, those of his clique of treacherous tattletales, manipulated by the man himself, like headless chickens). Basescu has a transinstitutional power. He is served by Barroso, Commissioner Reding, Angela Merkel, all of them trembling, plus the Venice Commission (let’s forget about the Romanian Constitutional Court), the United States and a multitude of Western ministers and ambassadors and the world’s prestigious publications: Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Economist, etc. All of them have made it their life’s work to support Traian Basescu, and they follow, with their heart in their mouths, the ups and downs of the Romanian referendum, working secretly to invalidate it. But even some members of the enemy government (and not just any old ministers, but the Minister of Administration and Interior no less) are undercover agents for the suspended president. The man is irrepressible. The secret services are at his feet. The prime minister’s plagiarism has been magicked into existence by his Machiavellian politics. By subtle fraud, Basescu has succeeded in devaluing the Romanian currency, banishing foreign investors and blocking government activity. It remains to be seen if he didn’t somehow cause the current drought too. Nothing can be done to remove him from the game. The only hope is Colonel Dogaru, who promises to dethrone him through well-organised popular chaos. Until then, we can only mutter a few cheeky remarks: let’s call him, with cutting irony, “ordinary citizen of the garage” or “citizen in a blue T-shirt”. Prime Minister Victor Ponta is, according to the interim president “intimidated”, and the interim president is so shaken that he has forgotten how to speak English. It is rumoured that, in the near future, Traian Basescu could win the American elections too. Slowly but surely, I start to feel a sense of pride that I live alongside such an unstoppable force of nature.
Sibiu, on another day in August in the same year
As is well known, I am, whatever I may do, “one of Basescu’s intellectuals”. Until he became president, I, like Liiceanu, Patapievici and Catarescu and others in the same category, was a nobody. He invented us, he made us what we are, he put us on the market. Once a month, we go to the presidential cashier and receive large sums of money, which we truly deserve for publishing reams of poetic homages to him. Our opinions are not our own. They are his. We lived in anonymous poverty until 2005, when the Lord blessed us and overnight we became Basescu’s faithful followers or băsişti for short. The way things stand, we will disappear from Romanian culture along with him. But until that day, we bathe euphorically in privileges. At least that is what is said. It is not clear which privileges are referred to here. Neither the publishing house Humanitas nor New College Europe nor the magazine Dilema veche are presidential presents nor do they consume public money. And Patapievici was nominated to the Romanian Cultural Institute before he had even begun to write a single line in elegy to “the great man”. From a financial perspective, we can’t even dream of the rewards received by some of the media stars of the “opposition”. But that’s the way it is! We will always gravitate around our patron, the great manipulator of our tired thinking…
But sometimes I’m overcome with envy. In spite of our shameless labours, we have not been able to obtain that which we surely deserve. In this respect, the “Antonescu-Voiculescu intellectuals” have been more efficient. It’s true they’ve laboured, they’ve struggled, they’ve taken a snipe at the enemy night after night, year after year, but at least they’ve landed somewhere: they’ve become ministers, (interim) presidential advisers, TV bosses, and eminent political commentators. We didn’t think of placing our children in high-ranking civil service posts, obtaining mandates as ambassadors, or extending those already obtained through minor acts of complicity with a plagiarising prime minister or with a neurotic president. We remain gilded mediocrities, “would-be’s”, unlucky boot-lickers. Our intellectualism, a crime in itself, cannot hope to rise to the level of refinement and intelligence of some illustrious future academicians like Sova, Surupaceanu, Banicioiu, Chitoiu, Gust or Hasotti. And even if we are talking about adversaries, we contemplate with bitterness the destiny of a distinguished university professor who, after centuries of fighting in the arena of Antena 3, was made local diplomatic director, only to be removed in a blink of an eye after a few weeks “with congratulations”. Maybe you’ll believe that he was treated like simple academic gunpowder, that in truth those for whom he fought wouldn’t give a farthing for him. It is not enough to reach high places. It matters not a little in whose company you reached them. Followers beware! Militant ferociousness doesn’t always pay. You’ll be on the benches in a jiffy if it is requested “for the good of the party”…
13th August 2012

This article by Andrei Plesu appeared in Dilema Veche. Translation by Daisy Waites.

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