The Addict in GMA

There has been varying reactions to President Arroyo anointing herself as drug czar, many unfavorable. Some say her penchant for micro-managing will leave her no time to attend to other critical responsibilities. Others consider it as “ill-timed” , “over-acting” and plain political gimmickry. Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casino said “What President Arroyo needs to do is to clean up the DOJ, starting with its secretary and to strengthen the PDEA. She should just do her job without resorting to fancy titles and gimmicks.

But really, what choice did she have ? With her alter-egos quarreling publicly, she had to put her house in order or at least give the impression that she’s still in control. Thus her assumption of the position of drug czar, to underscore the idea that she’s supposed to call the shots. Which is O.K., as I think she’s perfect for the job.

She’s an addict herself, and only another addict can truly understand the shackles of addiction. She knows how it feels to be in the grip of an irresistible compulsion to have her way, whatever the consequences. Classic addict behavior. She therefore has an instinctive, gut-feel, street-level understanding of the problem of illegal drugs, and the hunger that feeds the trade, although she might not even be aware of it.

Just to be clear, she’s not dependent on alcohol (although there have been nasty rumors), or drugs or sex. She’s addicted to power, to the pelf and privilege of her position.

That power is intoxicating is a cliche, but it’s a cliche precisely because it’s true. It’s a problem older than recorded history. According to Bertrand Russell: “Power is sweet; it is a drug, the desire for which increases with habit.

Consider some of the the indicators of addiction as applied to GMA.

She gets withdrawal symptoms, the shakes, at the prospect of her imminent exit from Malacanang. Having reneged on her promise not to seek a second term after booting out Erap, she now wants to extend her hold on power indefinitely. Hence, her jonesing for charter change over the years, a move recently revived by her allies in Congress.

She’s built tolerance to her drug of choice, and can’t get enough of it. She hasn’t relented in her efforts to consolidate power, and has subverted our governmental institutions in the process. She’s now packing the Supreme Court with beholden appointees and is reportedly behind the moves to impeach Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who is seen to be unsympathetic to her plans.

She made a mockery of people power which propelled her to the presidency. She corrupted all the elections since assuming office and bought off Congress, the military and compliant local governments. But she’s as much hostage to them as they are to her. She has to play along with their games or risk losing support. All her time and energies are spent trying to keep her hold on power. She’s lost control of the process of proper governance, although she believes otherwise.

Corruption is rampant, yet she turns a blind eye. In fact, the closer the tentacles of graft are to the Office of the President, the more she withdraws into a cocoon of denial.

It’s tough. There are no 12-step programs, no rehabs, no support groups, no AA or NA for those who can’t let go of the monkey of power.

The first step for her is to admit that she has no control over her addiction, and that her life has become unmanageable. And that she has made our existence under her administration hellish. But of course she won’t own up to anything. Classic Textbook addict behavior.

Update: The day after I made this post, Conrad De Quiros wrote in his regular Inquirer column (19 January 2008) an article along almost exactly the same lines, “It Takes An Addict“. I guess the analogy is obvious to a lot of people.

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