Much of the malaise that today contributes to the Ma administration’s low popularity was carried over from the DPP, which itself was handed several contradictions by preceding KMT administrations.
One person alone, however powerful he or she may be, cannot find all the solutions, nor can he or she take the blame for everything. Accusing Ma of failing to “appreciate the severity” of current social problems will not take us anywhere closer to finding the solutions to fix them and it acquits the individuals and the system that, external factors aside, gave rise to them in the first place.
Ultimately, by attacking Ma as an “ineffective bumbler,” his critics commit the dangerous error of assuming that the KMT, perhaps as a carryover of its previous iteration as an authoritarian regime that did not have to compete with other political parties, does not care about its reputation and its chances of prevailing at the polls.
Ma cares about his reputation, if only because he knows, as I observed in a recent piece on the same blog, that the KMT he heads expects him to leave it in as favorable a position as possible ahead of future elections.
The KMT would not, will not, allow him to sabotage its chances at the polls. As such, that he cannot run again makes no difference.
It is easy to make fun of Ma, to underestimate him and dismiss him as an incompetent, and that is exactly the reason why his detractors in the pan-green camp and the media have incessantly done so.
Not only do I disagree with this characterization — Ma would not be the head of the KMT if he were an idiot — but I will make a prediction: If the green camp continues to focus on Ma’s “incompetence,” there is no way the DPP will win the presidential election in 2016 and the KMT will not have to buy a single vote in order to prevail.
J. Michael Cole is a deputy news editor at the Taipei Times.