As I was sorting out my thoughts about the debate taking place in the Greek Parliament, I came across a quote by Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin: “My grandfather used to say that duck hunting is a lot of fun until the ducks start firing back. We’re starting to fire back.”
That’s exactly what Kyriakos Mitsotakis did. He has begun to fire back.
It was about time.
To be perfectly clear: We all want political life in general, and the debates in Parliament in particular, to be about substantial matters.
For the parties to present their positions and programs, to discuss national issues, to inform the people.
That is the role of Parliament, which is the temple of Democracy, where the MPs represent society, the people.
However, if we want to call things by their name, as we see them, in Greece we have the phenomenon of leftists, or self-proclaimed leftists, attacking their opponents, deceiving the people as they build their political careers, claiming a monopoly on patriotism and morality, without recognizing that their opponents have the same rights.
They are, the leftists say, irreplaceable and indispensable, because they hold the moral high ground. Seriously? Whoever declares himself to be a leftist is also…a saint?
The leader of New Democracy, as he has demonstrated many times over, prefers moderate, measured, positive dialogue rather than sharp and harsh exchanges. Sometimes in his speeches he does not even mention the name of his political opponents. He talks about his proposed program, about the state of the country and its future.
But this week he decided to put an end to the hypocrisy of his political rival.
It was unpleasant but absolutely necessary.
Mr. Tsipras, in his speech in the Parliament on Wednesday, surpassed himself in spewing vitriol. It was obvious that he was trying to brush away recent developments – the TV documentary about the Mati fire, his recent yacht vacations, the scattering of benefits to the voters, the aggravated political situation.
He didn’t even mention any of those things, but confined himself to extremist rhetoric against his opponent.
“I am a party leader for 11 years,” he said, “and I have been Prime Minister four-and-a-half years. I did not enter political life from a rich place; I did not become rich [through politics], and I do not belong to a political family which was involved only with politics but nevertheless became rich. You do not have the stature to talk about elites and masses to me,” he railed at Mitsotakis.
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Mitsotakis fired back – about Tsipras’ family – and it was not pretty.
“The next time you talk about very rich families, let’s look a bit at the ways in which your family obtained its property – when they got it, and with whom they worked with in the Greek junta… My family was exiled by the junta, while others ran errands for the junta.”
As I said above, these are not pleasant things.
But the duck has to fire back at the hunters.
The other day, Mr. Tsipras made a touching comment about his father, declaring that what Kyriakos did – to attack the dead who cannot defend themselves – is an unspeakably miserable thing to do. And we agree about respect for the dead – we have said the same recently in this space.
Mr. Tsipras’ statement has gaps.
But we would like to ask: can Kyriakos’ own dead father defend himself when Tsipras attacks him?