The Greek leader has said he might consider suing American banks as responsible for Greece’s insolvency. This is not as stupid as it sounds. Papandreou knows the lenders are not responsible for his nation’s virtual bankruptcy. He also knows his popularity is plunging and he must focus the anger of the Greek people away from himself if he is to have any hope of continued political power.
There lies throughout Europe an underlying resentment of America and a distrust of banks, Wall Street and capitalism. They serve well as straw men toward which the arrows of public discontent may easily be deflected. The idea of suing the banks may be absurd on its merits but at the same time a wise step for the man who put it forth. This is the mud of which the building blocks of a political house are formed.
Nor does it appear the man is fighting a lost cause. Papandreou’s popularity has sunk below 50% but he still leads his closest opponent by 17%. His chances for re-election appear good. In a nation with multiple parties a plurality is all that’s needed.
One should not be too quick to take a politician’s actions at face value. There is an old joke that asks, “How can you tell when a politician is lying?” The answer is “His lips are moving.”