“Whuta revoltin’ development this is,” to quote Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four member Ben Grimm, The Thing. You’ll recall my ho-hum tone a month ago when last discussing Armenia’s and the U.S.’ presidential elections. Now, things are downright disgusting!
In Armenia, we have, formally, a president elect, Serzh Sarkissian. Just like his two antecedents, fraud marred the electoral process. How much? Who the hell knows! And does it matter? This taints and weakens him in office. But this time, it is as bad as “I’m ba-ack” Levon ter Petrosian’s reelection when tanks went through the streets of Yerevan. There are injured and dead. That’s totally unacceptable a result of the reprehensible response to citizens’ reaction to the perceived fraud. But it’s weird. One description had it that while on one block the stuff of revolutions was unfolding, a few streets away, people were going on dates! It reminds me of the Lebanese Civil war. Anyone watching outside would be thinking the country was permanently in flames. The truth was clashes were limited and localized. The numbers of demonstrators protesting the election results also seem to indicate less than universal dissatisfaction. Even the highest numbers, likely inflated, reported by the protestors didn’t exceed 100,000 people.
The perverse irony of the situation is that the originator of the corrupt system entrenched in our homeland, Levon Ter Petrosian, has now ridden in on a white horse claiming to be the sheriff who’ll clean up the mess. But I can’t help but believe that even that white horse is stolen. How can you trust a guy who’s, at root, one of the main causes of the corruption problem inside post-Soviet Armenia and who tried to sell out the Armenian nation’s rights regarding Artsakh and the Genocide? Yet many well-intentioned people, among them significant numbers of the young, constituted the presence at the rallies headed by Levon calling for annulling the February 19th election results. From what I gather, these sincere individuals are so disgusted with conditions that they’re swallowing hard and tolerating Levon’s presence with the goal of improving the country. Can’t really condemn such thinking, and these people deserve our support. On the other hand, to me, doing ANYTHING that enhances Levon’s stature is indescribably odious. There’s no significant difference between Levon and Serzh. Which of the following pairs would you choose: being mauled by a lion or a tiger; getting bitten by a cobra or puff adder; a plague of lice or fleas. The last is probably most apt a choice in this discussion. As the saying goes, “lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas”. And this brings me to something utterly inexplicable. How could Raffi Hovannisian tolerate his party’s endorsement of Levon? It’s not just Levon’s anti-Armenian stances, but his sacking Raffi and the attendant humiliation when the latter had the backbone to address the issue of Genocide recognition in Ankara while serving as Foreign Minister. I gave him credit for far more decency and sincerity. It’s a real letdown. I’m so torn on this, the title of the article was almost going to be “Torn.”
Things aren’t too much better in the U.S. On Tuesday March 4, John McCain secured the Republican nomination. This is good for the Republicans and bad for the country and world. This flip-flopper (think campaign finance issues at least, and telecom legislation too, not to mention a possible affair with a lobbyist and his Freudian slip referring to himself as a liberal Republican when he was to say conservative) with an undeserved reputation as a straight-shooter will now be spared having to pander to the party’s right wing, thus showing his true chameleon colors to the country. He’ll now hop on the high road of “Vietnam-vet-tortured-POW” and pretend to be a great leader.
Meanwhile, Clinton and Obama will keep fighting for the Democratic nomination over the course of thirteen more primaries and caucuses extending through June 7th with Barack leading Hillary by just under 100 delegates, and the question of how to handle Florida and Michigan delegates unresolved (these states broke party rules by holding their elections too early and have been penalized- their delegates are currently denied the right to vote at the convention). Plus, the clashes between these two are getting a bit more ugly. This can only serve the Republican presidential effort that is severely handicapped by the choice of a far less qualified candidate and his rubber-stamp adoption of the sitting president’s worst policies.
Well, I suppose, the call to keep hope alive is ever more appropriate at a time like this. Let’s show the world what Armenian citizens can do at our best.