Commentators find Bill Clinton’s remarks on Hungary unfair, but for differing reasons.
At a Hillary Clinton campaign rally in New Jersey last Friday, the former President said that although Poland and Hungary owed their freedom to the United States, “they want Putin-like leadership: Just give me an authoritarian dictatorship and keep the foreigners out.” Poland’s Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the ruling Law and Justice party retorted that “The person who thinks that there is no democracy in Poland, should be medically examined.” Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said “not even Bill Clinton should allow himself to offend the Hungarian people in this way.”
In Magyar Idők, László Szőcs argues that although democracy has been defined in many ways, all definitions have one thing in common – first and foremost, votes have to be counted. The Hungarian government was democratically elected and can be democratically voted out of office. It is obvious that influential people in Washington would have preferred their own man to be Prime Minister in Hungary, but democracy is about votes, he continues. Szőcs does not find American criticism of the supposed lack of checks and balances in Hungary sufficient proof of ‘a Putin-like leadership’ and remarks that those checks and balances sometimes actually paralyse the federal government in the United States, like in the case of last year’s budget or of the refusal of Congress to hear the President’s Supreme Court Justice candidate. The administration “has better chances to succeed with its ideas on rest-room use,” he remarks, in a reference to the federal lawsuits against a North Carolina law according to which one’s gender at birth should decide rest-room use in public institutions.
On Kettős Mérce, Szilárd István Pap condemns Bill Clinton for what he calls a ‘haughty and culturally racist remark’. The left-wing analyst says that such ‘dumb bullshit’ was simply aimed at damaging Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton’s likely opponent and as such, should normally not be taken seriously. Except that Mr Clinton and other ‘third roaders’ are the very people responsible for the rise of those whom Pap defines as ‘right-wing demagogues’. When in government, he argues, they abandoned the values of social justice and also convinced East European leaders that unfettered free market and democracy walk hand in hand. Mr Clinton should recognise his own share of responsibility for the consequences, rather than insulting Poles and Hungarians. The author calls on his readers to join a demonstration in protest against Bill Clinton’s ‘offensive statements’ in Budapest on Thursday.