Great moments in presidenting

I am sure that readers would be expecting this post to be about Donald Trump, who has given us many great moments in presidenting by virtue of his grifting, incompetence, and sheer brazen lying. But this is actually about Sri Lanka where the president there seems to be trying to give Trump a run for his money when it comes to making impulsive and stupid decisions without thinking things through, feeling that the sheer office of his office was sufficient to make any decision he makes become reality.

I wrote earlier about the crisis in Sri Lankan politics that was triggered on October 26th by the decision of the president Maithripala Sirisena (MS) to summarily fire the prime minister Ranil WIckremesinghe (RW) and replace him with the leader of the opposition (and former president) Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR). RW insisted that MS did not have the constitutional authority to fire him and refused to vacate the official residence. Meanwhile MR appointed his own cabinet to run the government even though he tried but failed to show that he had the support of the majority of parliament, a necessary requirement to form a government in a parliamentary system.

So we had an impasse with, depending how you looked at it, either two prime ministers and two governments or no prime minister and no government, and there were rowdy scenes of fisticuffs in parliament and public demonstrations in the streets as the two sides claimed legitimacy. The rest of the country went about its business as this craziness went on.

The president MS had apparently never heard the sage advice that when you are already in a hole, you should stop digging. In an effort to end the impasse without backing down, MS then issued a proclamation dissolving parliament and calling for new elections. This was challenged in court and the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the constitution prohibited the president from dissolving parliament until a specific time had elapsed and since that time had not as yet been reached, his order was invalid.

There did not seem to be any resolution without somebody backing down in an embarrassing public defeat, something that rarely happens in politics. But that actually happened. The issue got resolved suddenly with MR resigning as prime minister and MS swearing RW in again as prime minister. This has to be seen as a serious loss of face fort he president. I think that there will be such general relief that this whole mess has been resolved without too much violence that embarrassing legal technicalities, such as why RW had to be sworn in again as prime minister if he had never been legally removed from office, will be elided.

For people in the US, it may be of some comfort to know that there is another country in which the president is as much an impulsive idiot as Trump. But it made me curious as to how Trump might react if the courts ruled that he must reverse himself on some major issue on which he had staked out a very public, unequivocal, and intransigent position.


  1. kestrel says

    Huh; so the US does not have the entire world market on stupid all wrapped up, there are those out there giving us some good competition. I’m not sure I should be happy about that. Maybe it’s a “misery loves company” type situation. Also it seems the phrase “learning from your mistakes” is now merely one of those quaint things that happened in the long ago but that you no longer see in these modern times.

    Oh, and as far as Trump’s reaction? I think he would just claim that was never what he said in the first place. The guy lives in a made-up world where he simply changes “facts” (what are those, anyway?) to match up to what he wants or says. He does it without blinking an eye. That situation would not even cause him to sweat.

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