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Dilma Shown the Door

Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff is out of a job:

The Brazilian Senate on Wednesday voted 61-20 to impeach President Dilma Rousseff for breaking fiscal laws, bringing to an end the historic tenure of the South American nation’s first female president who brought a greater spirit of empowerment to women in the country.

Instead, Rousseff’s vice president, Michel Temer, who has been pilloried for a Cabinet that is almost entirely composed of white men, will finish out her term.

The impeachment comes after a yearlong high-pitched political battle that paralyzed Latin America’s most powerful nation, helped bring down its economy and exposed deep rifts among its people on everything from race relations to social spending.

This is as much a vote of no confidence in her leadership as a conviction for crimes: many of the Senators who voted for her removal have been guilty of worse. What Rouseff really is guilty of is lying to the country about the state of the economy, packing some very destructive short term spending programs into the budget in order to gain votes, and then having no clue what to do when the roof fell in.

An instinctive response of Americans to situations like this is to bemoan the weakness of institutions—and indeed there were some among Dilma’s opponents who thought that absent a stronger criminal case against her, it was better to let her serve out the her term.

But while Brazil’s constitution resembles the U.S. one, in that there is a formal separation of powers between the executive and the legislature, there is a cultural, normative sense to European states that are used to a parliamentary system: when a Prime Minister loses the confidence of the majority in the legislature, the government falls.

Perhaps the more serious political issue in Brazil is the potential indictment of former president Lula on criminal charges—as of Friday, police were recommending he be charged with graft. Lula is the charismatic figure who built the modern PT and brought it to power; Dilma was his protege but was never as powerful in the party as Lula. If Lula is convicted of serious criminal misconduct and sentenced to jail, the resulting upheaval in Brazilian politics is likely to be greater than anything that comes from Dilma’s impeachment.

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  • f1b0nacc1

    Good riddance to bad rubbish

  • Beauceron

    “nation’s first female president who brought a greater spirit of empowerment to women in the country.Instead, Rousseff’s vice president, Michel Temer, who has been pilloried for a Cabinet that is almost entirely composed of white men”

    What a statement– she may have been corrupt and abused the power of her office, but she made women feel empowered and isn’t that great– not like those nasty white men.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Let us hope that this is the start of a very, very bad season for female politicians…

      • FriendlyGoat

        Oh, come now. You would have worshipped at the feet of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Carly Fiorina, Joni Ernst, Nikki Haley or any of the other GOP wingnut WOMEN you might have had in the place of Donald Trump at this moment.

        • f1b0nacc1

          You make a ton of assumptions, most of which are untrue. I never cared for Sarah Palin (I thought she was dreadfully abused by the media and by the GOP establishment, but ultimately she was a shallow opportunist, and I said so at the time), and have no use at all for Michelle Bachman. I rather liked Carly Fiorina (sadly she failed as a candidate, but better in the primaries than in the general election), and find Joni Ernst interesting, if not compelling. Nikki Haley isn’t a big favorite of mine, but she is no better or worse than any number of male politicos who have questionable ethics, tons of ambition, and little else. I would have preferred Carly to Donald certainly, but that has little to do with her gender and much to do with her willingness to take the battle to Hillary without simultaneously forcing me to embrace a shallow vulgarian like DJT. I would not have worshipped at the feet of ANY of them…politicians are a terrible target for idolatry.

          So, with all that in mind, what does it matter? I am delighted that Dilma is being hustled away in well-deserved disgrace, that Merkel is suffering for her appallingly stupid moral vanity, and that there is an increasing chance that Hillary will suffer a humiliating defeat (in fairness, I would settle for any sort of defeat, but I would prefer that she suffer while it occurs). That constitutes a bad year for female politicos in my calculations…

          Now seriously, if it were Bernie vs Michelle Bachman, for instance, wouldn’t you have similar feelings?

          • FriendlyGoat

            You would like to be winning with an Ernst over a Sanders, and you would be celebrating to the moon if that were happening. But it isn’t.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Of course I would,prefer Ernst over Sanders (really now, what sane person wouldn’t?), but as for celebrating…not quite…

            If DJT beats Hillary, I will breathe a sigh of relief at the danger we missed, celebrate for a short time (hopefully with a rousing chorus of “Ding dong the witch is dead”), then proceed to get quite grim about what price we have had to pay to avoid the catastrophe. You heard it here…cut and paste it, and hold m to it if you care to.

            DJT is a deeply unfortunate necessity in this case, and one that I am not happy about. He is, on the other hand, far, far superior to the alternative. Of the women you mentioned earlier, I might have celebrated Carly, but the rest I would have tolerated over Hillary.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Can you do me a favor and “cut and paste” your complete comments on this thread to as many women as you can find? They are, after all going to decide this election. I have realized that I’m not good at making political suggestions to ladies of any inclination, but you—–YOU—-have natural talent for the task.

          • f1b0nacc1

            You know, this really isn’t about a ‘center-left woman’…even you aren’t that disingenuous. The politics of HRC are objectionable (notably her inclination to appoint anti-liberty SCOTUS justices), but it is her corruption (that I have witnessed first hand) that is the real problem. Unlike Trump, who is so obnoxious that even most of the GOP won’t support him once in office, HRC could virtually guarantee lockstep tribal support among the Democratic sheep (you are in fact exhibit A here), and thus is a far, far more dangerous candidate.

            As it happens, most of the women I know are Trump supporters, though I realize that is a highly skewed (and largely unrepresentative) sample. I have no trouble with a great many female candidates, and those that know me would be the first ones to tell you this. I actually assume that ANYONE can be pro-liberty, so I hold women to the same standards as men in this regard….

  • Kevin

    I wonder if going after Lula might not set a precedent and make President for Life an appealing feature for his successors. The rule of law is important, but so is not making the stakes in politics so high that one can’t afford to relinquish power.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Your point is not a bad one, but let me suggest that if we jettison the rule of law in favor of giving corrupt politicians an ‘escape hatch’, we have indeed given away the game. What is the point of government in the first place if not the rule of law?

  • Andrew Allison

    Um, have I mentioned that Brazil, like Ukraine, et. al., is irredeemably corrupt? The names and political affiliations of those in charge are irrlevant.

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