There are several methods of achieving all of the above. One is the downright slandering of your opponents and the relentless repetition of key falsehoods that, in true Dr. Goebbels fashion, eventually acquire the veneer of “truth”. Another is the “honest reform” movement, whereas a mass of proven liars and corruptors assume the mantle of latter day holy men and women putting themselves through brutally honest self-flagellation with the aim of reaching a new and incorruptible whole. Yet another is the forgiveness-and-redemption narrative, which positions this same mass of proven liars and corruptors as truly seeking the forgiveness of all of us “for past mistakes from which we have all learned our lesson”. This latter approach is perhaps the most cynical and dangerous as it directly reaches for the sense of empathy in almost all of us. What better “proof” of redemption is there than repeated public self-humbling and asking for forgiveness -- while all the while smirking when in the shadows?

In recent years, Greek politics has grown “sophisticated” and seen many such changes in tactics and ways of influencing public opinion. “Grass roots” organizing of the faithful has brought political propaganda into every facet of daily life. Creating extensive networks of corruption, and giving government jobs to thousands of hacks whose only recommendation is a quick note from party headquarters to the personnel officer, ensured Greek society remained hostage, but also responsive, to such partisan strategies. And when things got really bad, and even those thoroughly brainwashed did cast their ballots against the corruptors, the “system” took everything in its stride smoothly and without any rush.

Men and women, whose very political past is intrinsically linked to governments put together to promote corruption and extract wealth through wicked practices, suddenly emerged in the likeness of biblical prophets returning from the desert to announce the coming of the Messiah.

Men and women, with a documented stint of government service based on lying, stealing, embezzling, and obstructing justice, discredited to the core and not even bothering to address real charges against them, protected as they are behind parliamentary immunities, reappear as self-righteous critics of all that is not right in Greek society and with promises of quickly righting the boat in no time at all.

Men and women, who cut their political teeth next to senior organizers of the Grand Corruption Network, and who swore allegiance to demagogues and tribal leaders posing as blue ribbon “democrats,” pop up in tie and jacket or fancy dress, and with gold-plated cell phones in hand, to pithily and caustically address the deathly ills dealt upon the country by their political opponents.

Even worse, “leaders,” with the longest record of serving these past governments of thinly-veiled godfathers, have quickly grabbed a fabricated crown of thorns, slapped on some clean-hands makeup, got a shave, changed shirts, and took to the streets and the air waves to prove that, yes, there is indeed life after political death that is full of promise of re-sinking one’s arms up to the elbows into the cookie jar, always of course in the interest of national rebirth and good and Christian government.

Certain obvious questions emerge.

If indeed there is so much commitment to forgiveness and redemption on the part of all these newly baptized in the upper Fountain of Siloam, as they claim while they tear their robes on live television over their rediscovered honor, they should promptly retreat into silence and introspection after they have made their peace with those they so blatantly defrauded over the years.

Instead, they are very much on display and crowing.

If indeed so many “lessons” have been learnt, these same baptized should explain clearly what their purposes are now that a second chance appears imminent. They should, for example, show beyond doubt how different they are from those they, today, accuse of fraud, avarice, and self-indulgence. They should explain in detail how they would have done things differently under circumstances similar to those their political opponents faced.

Instead, they are feeding the electorate reheated long-life fare devoid of taste and substance.

Francis Bacon, the celebrated Elizabethan essayist, put it beautifully:

For corruption, do not only bind thine own hands or thy servants' hands from taking, but bind the hands of suitors also from offering. For integrity used doth the one; but integrity professed, and with a manifest detestation of bribery, doth the other: and avoid not only the fault, but the suspicion. Whosoever is found variable, and changeth manifestly without manifest cause, giveth suspicion of corruption. Therefore, always, when thou changest thine opinion or course, profess it plainly, and declare it, together with the reasons that move thee to change; and do not think to steal it [emphasis added].

All of our politicians, Siloam-baptized or not, need to heed the words above. And all voters need to heed all of the candidates arrayed before them and watch for the unmistakable scramble for power -- that twinkle in the eye as they spew their script, which defeats at once all the proclamations by “saviors of the Nation,” past and present.

Forgiveness and redemption. Two splendid concepts, so much at the center of a philosophy of resurrection, goodness, and noble endeavor, have been turned into tools of the dirty trade. Flaunted on live television, launched during jarringly inane public speeches, and deployed at will by certifiable crooks and political rodents, forgiveness and redemption are now the banners of a deception campaign leading to a new era of corruption.

Greek voters seem unaware of this more than obvious scheme -- or, could it be that they consciously accept the reassurances of the recently self-cleansed? That would be the most depressing conclusion of all because it would prove the widely rumored gullibility of the great mass of “responsible citizens” of this country.

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