Monday, July 09, 2007

Don't Remember It, So It Didn't Happen; Claims Fred Thompson. (Echoes in Ibaragi)

The headline and lead say it all:

Thompson lobbied for abortion-rights group, it says
A spokesman for the GOP presidential hopeful says he did no such work. An ex-colleague calls the denial 'bizarre.'

Are Mssrs. Sada, Matsuoka (wherever he is), Kyuma, et al thinking, why didn't I think of that?

Seriously, on the face of it, the allegations look pretty convincing. I can see why Fred Thompson can't say that he was just doing his job (a la Mitt Romney as Massachusetts governor), or changed his mind like the other Republican candidates (including Mitt Romney). But is he sure that he has the nerves to withstand the attack from his opponents? The silver lining for the Republicans is that this makes Alberto Gonzales look good. I mean, he only forgot, period.

Speaking of changing minds, MAFF Minister's parents issued a written statement on Sunday retracting his mother's previous claim that, contrary to the filing with the authorities, their home was not being used as his main office. Prime Minister Abe had said as much earlier in the day on TV, stating that it was his understanding that they would be making a clarifying statement later in the day.


Ross said...

So will people believe Akagi's parent's initial response or the later one?

Jun Okumura said...

Ⅰthink that people who heard Abe out on those programs who were not committed skeptics must have felt some sympathy with his soliloquy on the need to respond to the desires of legacy supporters to maintain old local centers of activity (especially when third generation scions grow up in Tokyo). I personally do not think the mother's initial explanations to the press and the subsequent document necessarily conflict but are merely partial truths, the former obtained through skillful questioning by a Yomiurireporter and the latter prepared after careful questioning by lawyers and professional handlers. Besides, I don't see the impropriety of designating a less-used place of work for headquarters. (Think Delaware corporations.) And I don't see anything ethically amiss about allocating some of the costs properly attributable to headquarter activities even if they had taken place at another location, as long as there were no taxation implications. A less obsessive but still diligent reader of the press will see a post facto manipulation of the facts. Besides, if it's really on the level, why does he refuse to disclose his books? Others who have merely a casual interest in these things will see a flip-flop and reluctance to come clean and will figure that all politicians are alike.

I can continue mind reading like this forever, if I didn't have to go out for dinner. (Can't finish this particular piece of work until much later in the evening.) Mean, median, mode, I know not. But if I had to make a guess as to the most prevalent sentiment, I would say, poor mom, pulled this way and that, suffering the indignity of having to dissemble for her son.

A final point: I think the LDP made the best of a bad situation. Disclosing all was never an option; that would have made a mockery of the newly-minted 50,000 yen and over rule they were able to convince the LDP Diet members to accept, and merely served to prolong the controversy. But the damage is done. The last case the public will remember is that of some who claimed costs at a headquarters that really wasn't there, sort of. Mr. Akagi, like Mr. Abe on a much, much larger scale in the public pension scandal, has suffered the misfortune of being the last one (unless there is another disclosure before July 29) standing when the music stopped.

I've rambled on enough, and I'm out of time anyway. Good night, Ross.

PS: We are not hearing from the representative of the other support group. Is he in some kind of witness program?

MTC said...


Ibaraki Prefecture. Ibaraki.

The LDP and the Abe Cabinet did not make a best effort. The 50,000 yen limit is a cruel joke, such a sum is a fifth of many an elderly person's individual monthly income. As for politicians assigning personnel, utility and equipment expenses to non-existent offices, that corporations and individuals cannot get away with such behavior - if the accountants don't immediately gag, the tax inspectors eventually do--should be the guiding principle.

That everybody does it is not an excuse (they are having much the same discussion on the NBR Japan Forum as regards dango). The fraudulent accounting is a veil for corruption--nothing else.

Jun Okumura said...

MTC: I assume by "best effort" you mean acting in good faith, which has nothing to do with making the best of a bad situation. The former properly belongs to a discussion of the moralities and ethics of the issue, whereas the latter refers here to the planning and execution of political theatrics, the aesthetics, if you will. I'm sorry, but I haven't gone to the NBR Japan Forum for quite some; it's too addictive. I assume they are more interested in the former.

I notice that the old gentleman took a day longer to remember that he'd misremembered than the MAFF minister's mother; that he was indeed the head of one of the MAFF minister's support groups (in a volte face worthy of those newspaper fold-in hair-regeneration/miracle-diet ads), and that the MAFF minister himself decided to forsake campaigning for the Ibaragi LDP candidate and instead to stalk the fringes of the Doha Round G4 talks in Germany, among other things. I chalk up the old man's initial fuming to anger at the real or imagined neglect and abandonment of the old guard, to which he belongs. The latter to… Well, the wreck has been towed away; move along, move along, there's nothing to see.

Trivia question: Am I the only one old enough to remember a time when a G4 in trade talks meant the US, EU, Japan and Canada; and Australia had to content itself with leading the Cairns Group, while India and (less so) Brazil pretended to put up a united front for the G77? Ah, the good old days…