Sunday, February 5, 2012

Josefina and Enrique

Opinion - Win or lose, Vázquez Mota will teach "Mexico's Great Hope" a few things

Adlai Ewing Stevenson II (1900-1965) was a rare U.S. politician of another era. I'll venture that most Americans under 60 have never heard of him, which is unfortunate. Stevenson was a highly capable leader of the Democratic Party who often carried the torch for liberal causes, a man of keen intellect, an excellent orator and a person of quiet dignity whose honor was unimpeachable. Few modern politicians -- in the United States or Mexico --remotely resemble Adlai Stevenson.

Stevenson was the 31st governor of Illinois. He was also twice the Democratic nominee for president, in 1952 and 1956. He lost both times to the Republican candidate, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Stevenson can be forgiven for losing. It was all but impossible to beat a retired U.S. Army general who had just saved the Western world from Adolf Hitler.

Right after his second heart-breaking defeat, Stevenson was asked how he felt: His reply: "Well, I feel like the little boy who got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and in the darkness he stubbed his toe against the bedpost. He was too old to cry, but it hurt too much to laugh."

Enrique Peña Nieto should remember those words. He may find they describe his own emotions come Sunday, July 1.

The PRI candidate who has the audacious arrogance to bill himself "Mexico's Great Hope" is in reality a man of the most modest qualifications, who has distinguished himself at little more in life than a fierce determination to become president of Mexico -- a goal which he purportedly set for himself as a boy. I'm not so sure that such precocity warrants any particular respect.

Peña Nieto will find in his main opponent, the just-nominated PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota, a fearless adversary who stands head and shoulders above him in class, intelligence, experience, common sense, personal ethics and above all, in vision for the future. For Vázquez Mota, the 2012 election is all about Mexico. For Peña Nieto, it's all about Enrique. Peña Nieto indeed looks crisp, clean cut and boyishly handsome in the bright red shirts he sports at PRI publicity events. But the general campaign is now at hand, and it may take more than Madison Avenue marketing to package and sell this candidate to Mexico. The sordid personal history to which Peña Nieto confessed two weeks ago, coupled with his nauseously inappropriate claim of "devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus," speak volumes about the prideful man lurking behind the facade.

I don't know what will happen over the next 150 days, and reading tea leaves in the political season is risky business in any country. But Enrique Peña Nieto is about to be given a run for his money by Josefina Vázquez Mota, and he had better get ready.

Enrique Peña Nieto admits, "I was unfaithful":
El Gran Amante (The Great Lover) Enrique Peña Nieto:

Adlai Stevenson, 1961

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