Power is a strong drug, it’s addictive and causes dependency. So much is known. So nothing more natural than the sadness of a president when his mandate, and to top it all, of eight years, is nearing its end. Everything is allowed. Complaints, discomforts, tutting, choking and even tears.
But if Dilma Rousseff is Lula reincarnated (even on the ballot, as he himself says), leading two of the three latest polls and if she has already won in the first round – as Marco Aurélio Garcia, Lula’s special advisor for international affairs, tells us – why in hell is Lula crying?
The same way he started nearly two years earlier the presidential campaign, Lula now seems to anticipate the pain and sorrow for ending his second term. There are still a lengthy five months, almost half a year of work to transfer the presidential sash. But he behaves as if every meeting, every trip, every interview were the last one.
As Lula has always some hidden purpose in his actions, there is for sure something there.
This last week, he abused the tears. First, in an interview with TV Record, then, live on the Gigantinho stadium in Rio Grande do Sul
Lula’s ability to induce and manipulate emotions is undeniable. Few, or almost nobody, has such empathy and reap so many results in direct contact with the public.
For no other reason, he has always preferred the podium to the administrative responsibilities that the presidency imposes. And if, historically, the stump has been an arena where he ruled absolute, being top leader of the nation was and remains something irresistible.
Indeed, Lula lives a very unusual situation: for most office-holders in the majority, let alone presidents, the end of a mandate forces them to leave the palace and return to the stumps. For Lula, especially if he wins with Dilma, it will be exactly the opposite. Perhaps this is a reason to cry.
He proved this by choking his voice and soaking his eyes during the Porto Alegre rally. Even knowing that he would overshadow his pupil, he did not hesitate to steal her party.
“There are only five months and two days to go,” he said, staring hard at a Dilma that minutes before, even with a less technical discourse, made without teleprompter, failed to liven the crowd. As for Lula, he barely finished a paragraph and there was such an outpouring of applause, shouts, slogans. It didn’t matter what he was saying. All it counted was the pure emotion.
And Lula was delighted.
At the Record TV interview, the tears were even more abundant. He cried when talking about the BNDES (National Bank for Economic and Social Development) loan to the cooperative of São Paulo’s trash pickers.
In the same interview, then without choking and in a threatening tone, he refused to answer the question about the six fines he received from the Electoral Court for illegal campaigning for his hand-picked candidate. He preferred to disqualify Veja magazine: “I don’t read this magazine.”
And he went further. After criticizing the media – “if it depended on some I would get zero in the polls” – he could not hide the fact that he regards his relationship with the press as a utilitarian one: – “I don’t need them for anything,” he said, referring to Veja. What does this mean? If he needed things would be different?
The constant criticism to the press, the battle of “us,” the good people, against “them,” the evil doers, is not new. Now the tears were added up.
The immeasurable sorrow of a president, the most popular the country has ever had, to whom the law of a democratic country has usurped the right to run for a third mandate.
Nothing more than crocodile tears.
Mary Zaidan is a Brazilian journalist. She worked in the Brasília bureau of the newspapers O Globo and O Estado de S. Paulo. She was also press aide for São Paulo governor Mário Covas in two electoral campaigns.