Duh!

When she is not teaching in UP Diliman or advocating women’s rights, Sylvia Estrada-Claudio tries to teach her children to love well and think rationally. This article was published in the Opinion Section, Yellow Pad column of BusinessWorld, August 3, 2005 edition, p. S1/5.

One of the goals of basic education is to teach basic logic.

Simply put, it is about being able to spot a “duh.” At the risk of explaining the obvious, “duh” is a response one gives when faced with a patently stupid proposition. It is a way of allowing the person presenting the idea, the time to figure out what is wrong with it. Presumably one does not have to point out the problem, because any ordinary fool would be able to figure it out. The only exceptions are grade school children who have yet to be taught basic logic.

The current political crisis should have educators working overtime. Our national discourse has degenerated to the level of, well, duh. Many politicians and top executives in government are proving themselves worse than the ordinary fool for whom a “duh” would suffice. Indeed, I intend to have a serious talk with their grade school teachers soon. But in an effort to help, let us look through a few of the inanities that have littered the political scene.

Let us begin with the main issue of the day, resignation. Those who defend Mrs. Arroyo have gone through a series of amazing duhs in an effort to help her stay in power. The currently favored one is that we must follow the rule of law, stop asking her to resign and take our complaints to Congress where an impeachment process can begin.

Like, duh. Calling for resignation is not part of the rule of law? Rallies and demonstrations to press her to resign are not within the rule of law?

Those smart enough to have taken the space provided for them by the public “duh” over their proposition that impeachment is more constitutional than calls for resignation, have modified their arguments somewhat. They concede that resignation is indeed constitutional; they just don’t like the fact that we are FORCING her to resign.

Double duh. Last I heard no one has put a gun to her head or kidnapped her family in an effort to force her to resign. She’s the President for goodness sake. If the latest surveys are to be believed, a majority of Filipinos are convinced she should go. They probably wish there was indeed a way to force her to resign.

In order to mitigate the general disgust, Malacañang would have us believe that we have a truly repentant President who is now so ready to reform the nation. She did after all apologize. (For what exactly no one but she knows, apparently not those criminal things in the tapes.) She has been doing meaningful things like sending Mike and Mikey away.  (For what exactly no one but she knows, apparently not those criminal things in the Senate hearing on jueteng.) She has reached out to people like Kris Aquino who felt insulted by Raul Gonzales.

As for Raul Gonzales, his honorable duh-ness, did not start with the insults to Kris. He began by saying Susan Roces was, “too pretty to put in jail” and that she was nothing but a “griping widow.” As the President seems to be willing to stand by her man in the Justice Department, I suggest she issue pardons to all those women who are too pretty to be incarcerated. Additionally, I suggest the President call all the widows in the country to assure them that their political sentiments and lawsuits are not considered mere “griping.” Susan Roces will probably not want an apology. She has already said that the President must apologize, not to her, but to Fernando Poe, Jr. This should be no problem. The President need only use her hotline to the god that the she believes put her in the Palace.

We should be encouraged by her taking the flak for Raul Gonzales. It upholds the logic that Cabinet members speak for the President and she must therefore be accountable for what they say. I hope she finally takes responsibility for Ignacio Bunye’s cover-up with the two Garci tapes. Should the rule of sanity prevail, she might even agree to honor Mike Defensor’s dare and resign if the tapes are proven authentic.

But Raul is only my second favorite among the presidential defenders. My personal favorite is Mayor Lito Atienza, who nowadays styles himself as a defender of the Constitution. For me, he is duh man! Mayor Atienza, in blatant violation of the Constitution, has refused family planning services to his constituents in Manila. Now he wants us to respect the Constitution? Something is very strange about the Mayor’s moral reasoning. He seems quite willing to condemn poor powerless women and men whose sexuality runs afoul of his standards. Indeed he intends to break the law in order to keep them in line—even if the only people they might harm (and this is debatable) are themselves. Yet he defends a powerful woman who has offended a large number of the population’s moral standards and has brought harm to the nation.

This brings me to my final duh. Some of the President’s men are saying it is the protesters that are bringing harm to the nation. They say that all this political ferment is bringing down an already fragile economy. But who made the economy fragile in the first place with her tremendous budget deficits and over-the-top borrowing? Who emptied government coffers in order to get re-elected? Who brought us to the brink by calling up a high Comelec official?

She has brought us to the precipice and built a wall behind us so we cannot turn back. Excuse me Madame, but may I ask you to jump? We must start building a bridge to cross over. But please do not be insulted that we do not want you around to supervise building that bridge. It’s only logical.

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