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Doddsson’s tirade

Ah, me. I have just read Doddson’s letter to the Prime Minister in full. Every few seconds I found the corners of my mouth turning upwards, then drooping in dismay. Because, truthfully, I am sad to see a man of Davíd Oddsson’s stature sink to this level. Whatever dignity he once possessed has been completely eradicated by the events of the last few days and, finally, by that lengthy tirade. He’s foaming at the mouth, completely livid with rage, because … what? Because the new Prime Minister chose to inform the Icelandic public, the vast majority of who want Doddson gone from the Central Bank, of the progress of events? He throws a bloody tantrum because his wife didn’t open a letter that everyone knows was just a formality? I mean, come on – the entire nation, including Doddson himself, knew exactly what was in that letter and what Jóhanna planned to do the moment she took office.

There is much talk these days of whether all this is fair, whether Davíd Oddsson is being made into a scapegoat, whether he is the subject of a witch hunt, etc. Which is SO not the point and only proves that, once again, Doddsson has managed to cast himself in the central role – and it is entirely through his unwillingness to lay aside his own narcissistic pride and step aside. It is not about Oddsson, is the point – it is about restoring credibility to the Central Bank, and building trust in the bank amongst the Icelandic nation and amongst other nations. In most other civilized countries, the head of a Central Bank would have resigned immediately under similar circumstances. Not here. Instead we have a seriously deranged individual who plans to fight tooth and nail in order to deflect all blame from himself.

In the last few days, this whole Doddsson affair has reminded me of a passage I read many years ago and which I go back to often. It’s from a book called Further Along the Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck, and in this particular passage he is talking about narcissists, whom he calls “people of the lie”. His use of the word “evil” may upset some; however I think it is important to keep in mind what Peck’s small daughter said to him, and which for him defined the meaning of the word: “Evil is live spelled backwards”.

The evil are very strong-willed men and women. And because they are narcissistic, self-absorbed and their will is supreme, they are the ones who are most into inappropriate and destructive blaming. They are the people who cannot – who will not – take the beam out of their own eye.

For most of us, if there is evidence around us that might point to our own sin and imprefection, if that evidence pushes us up against the wall, we usually come to recognize that something is wrong and we make some kind of self-correction. Those who do not I call “people of the lie” because one of their distinguishing characteristics is their ability to lie to themselves, as well as to others, and to insist on being ignorant of their own faults or wrongdoing. Their guiding motive is to feel good about themselves, at all costs, at all times, no matter what evidence there may be that points to their sin or imprefection. Rather than using it to make some kind of self-correction, they will instead – often at great expense of energy – set about trying to exterminate the evidence. They will use all the power at their disposal to impose their wills onto someone else in order to protect their own sick selves.*

To hear Doddson tell it, he is absolutely blameless in his part in Iceland’s economic collapse. However, the evidence speaks for itself. Also, a letter has been making the rounds today [the one Gummi linked to in the comments to the last post] that illustrates just how far Doddsson is unable to take the beam out of his own eye. In 1996, when he was Prime Minister, he wrote the following letter to the Director of Landsbanki, after the latter had been caught out spending too much of the bank’s money on salmon fishing trips for himself and his friends [NB this was before the bank was privatized].

Doddson: … if you don’t fix the inanity of the latest interest rate debacle, it is final proof that you don’t know what you are doing and I will see to it, sooner than anyone suspects, that men take positions in the bank that know what they are doing. I want an answer from you immediately, other than retorts in the media, because I will no longer be still.

And this is a man bemoaning the fact that the current PM is issuing “veiled threats” in her letter to him. Oh, the irony!!

One last thing: he makes one credible point in that letter, and that is that the Social Democrats were also in power during the lead-up to the collapse, and did nothing to avert it. Very true – and I suspect many of them are hanging their heads in shame. This is also why they shoved Jóhanna out front to be Prime Minister [her excellent political record notwithstanding] – because if there is anyone in their ranks that can be trusted, it is she. In fact, ex-PM Geir H. Haarde once joked that there were three parties in the coalition – the IP, the SDA, and Jóhanna. Because she held her own and was such a tough negotiator. Still, that does not make them blameless – however, in my view, the current form of interim government is the best possible option at present [a national government was out of the question, and the former coalition was paralyzed] – they have 80 days to prove what they can do, and then we will hold elections.

Weather: pretty much same as in last post. Two posts in one day! And I didn’t even get to the really juicy gossip about the President and the First Lady

* Further Along the Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck, Simon & Schuster, p. 38.

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  • Lissa February 9, 2009, 11:32 pm

    Perhaps….could we ask Dorrit to take care of David?

  • Flygill February 9, 2009, 11:44 pm

    Doddo reminds me of Reverend Jim Jones, the cult leader who forced his followers to drink the arsenic-laced purple Kool-Aid in the jungles of Guyana.
    Same set of neuroses: narcissism, paranoia, egotism, self-pity, self-righteousness, sense of infallibilty, persecution complex.
    Maybe some protesters can make some grape Kool-Aid and offer it to the employees as they enter the Central Bank.

  • Roy February 10, 2009, 12:41 am

    There is no cure for megalomania, we need to play hardball…

  • James February 10, 2009, 1:21 am

    Well, at least no-one needs worry any more that Iceland’s government and Central Bank are colluding! Perhaps this could be settled once and for all with an Oddsson vs Sigurdardottir celebrity wrestling match – the rumble on the glacier…

  • Kathryn February 10, 2009, 1:52 am

    He’s really lost the plot !

  • Voyager February 10, 2009, 2:18 am

    I remember that book. Unfortunately the description you quoted applies to too many political leaders, including our current prime minister here in Canada.
    V.

  • Nick February 10, 2009, 3:03 am

    I have always thought that for a person to have the ambition to be a politician should be the one factor that disqualifies them actually becoming a politician.

  • Dean February 10, 2009, 6:36 am

    Will this culminate into Johanna sending in armed police into the Central Bank HQ to evict David, after the parliament votes to fire him, which he ignores?

  • Ljósmynd DE February 10, 2009, 7:38 am

    I would suggest some vote of no-confidence in parliament, if only for symbolic reasons, to expose his disrespectful behaviour. This letter should be reason enough, the long list of his failures notwithstanding.

    Maybe, the Central Bank should be closed down temporarily for refurbishment – not only metaphorically – and his office relocated to some faraway place – the best would be some wooden hut next to a aluminium smelter.

    Your president is currently not making friends with Germany as he seems to be opposed to paying back the deposits of the German savers with Kaupthing. This is understandable to some extent but is standing in contrast with the statements made at the creditors’ meeting of Kaupthing last week. And German savers would certainly not understand to be treated differently than savers from other countries. The lesson of credibility seems still to be learned.

  • Sigvaldi Eggertsson February 10, 2009, 9:15 am

    In the last few months we have seen over 25 people in high positions in banking, the financial regulators and the government here in Iceland leaving their posts or being evicted and only one of them is taking it as an assault on his person.

  • Steve February 10, 2009, 9:51 am

    How do you say “Respect mah authoritah” in Icelandic? I can see a great T-shirt there, if you can skirt the copyright issues 🙂 .

  • alda February 10, 2009, 10:44 am

    Thanks, everyone. I can really see that Jóhanna vs. Davíð wrestling match … heheheh.

    Nick – Well said!!

    Dean – I do expect he’ll go once the laws are changed. Kicking and screaming though, no doubt.

    LDE – I suspect his office has already been moved – he’s probably working from his cosy home office, since those pesky protesters are making work difficult at the CB.
    And I’ve just read those remarks by Ólafur Ragnar and am utterly appalled. I rang EPI and he was equally outraged. In his words, “and here we thought we were electing people who had some sense in their heads.” What next??

    Steve – not sure it would translate, but something similar might do. 🙂

  • Gray, Germany February 10, 2009, 11:37 am

    Apropos Grimsson, the guy just created another outrage against Iceland by declaring that he is against German depositors getting any money back from Kaupthing. Without any official backing from the government, of course, just like when he offered the Russians a military base on Iceland. This clown just can’t be stopped from ruining Iceland’s reputation, and imho he is the next one who has to go, directly after you get rid of Oddsson.
    🙁

  • Gray, Germany February 10, 2009, 11:41 am

    “could we ask Dorrit to take care of David?”
    Hehe, great idea! After reading that story Alda linked (thx!), it seems obvious to me that she would have been a better president than her hubby. And probably a better chairman of the central bank than Oddsson, too. Very reasonable, her stance towards the banks, and international finances.

  • alda February 10, 2009, 12:01 pm

    Gray – agree absolutely. The story about Dorrit and Óli bickering was on the news last night and I got all worried that they were going to split up … remarked to EPI that we are like children worried that their parents are going to separate. 😉
    In any event, I think she would make a far better president than Óli. She’s just delightful – outspoken and honest.

  • colin buchanan February 10, 2009, 12:04 pm

    Going back to Alda’s point in her previous posting about people going when their bosses fire them. This begs the question, who is Doddsson’s boss? Who really controls him? I think you have to go beyond Iceland to answer this? What about the City of London and their New Labour stooges. The same people who threatened Iceland with anti-terror legislation. They are not asking Doddsson to go , they’re asking him to stay to hold the fort because they are up to their knecks in Iceland’s bankruptcy and the crucial question of where did the money taken from Icelandic investors and depositors go. This question needs answering for the sake of justice and so that the Icelandic people can get it back, but since it involves criminal, fraudulent money laundering activities which must remain covert that isn’t going to be an easy step. Of course, Doddsson, in theory, can be removed but pressures will be being brought to bear on the Icelandic government, threats, in fact, perhaps via the IMF, controlled by Washington and London.
    So events in Iceland have reached an impasse because its more than just a bit of local difficulty, it threatens to blow the lid off a whole lot of malfeasance. I’m sorry if this sounds sinister and I may, of course, be quite wrong. But I think it’s impossible to deny there is an aspect to events in Iceland that go beyond Iceland itself.

  • alda February 10, 2009, 12:04 pm

    Incidentally, I’ve just read that Ólafur Ragnar claims he was misquoted and his words taken out of context. Apparently he’s now speaking to the German press to try to set the record straight.

  • Andrew February 10, 2009, 12:26 pm

    I see that one of the three Directors has resigned. Can’t he be replaced by someone tough who can take on David Oddsson? Do you have anyone in mind? You did mention a Professor of Economics (I think), but is he tough enough?

  • Ljósmynd DE February 10, 2009, 12:59 pm

    Another case of ‘lost in translation’, as it might seem. I wonder, if there is no awareness, how sensitive those issues are. Maybe, Icelandic politicians and public office holders should be trained on a more professional approach concerning dealings with the foreign press in order not to risk again to have Iceland landed on some outcast list.

    The attitude towards Iceland in Germany seems generally to be compassionate and friendly, I couldn’t see any advantage by putting this at risk.

    Meanwhile, Kaupthing has given out a renewed statement, that they would reimburse the German deposits – as it was stated before: by own means, that is without money from Icelandic taxpayers.

    And your description seems to indicate that DO is more a case for a psychiatrist than anything else.

    In his denial to accept any fault on his side, his willingness to rather cause harm to his country than to step down and his outburst of fury in this letter he is sporting some spiritual kinship to THE most evil of all German ‘politicians’ of the last century.

  • Martin February 10, 2009, 1:05 pm

    Andrew ~ Like Bruce Willis in “Die Haarde”?

  • alda February 10, 2009, 1:08 pm

    Andrew – yes, one of the CB directors resigned when the PM sent her initial letter to the three of them. Props to him!
    As for replacing him – there will be only one CB director once these guys have been ousted, and the position will be advertised. No more political appointments. Yay!

    LDE – Maybe, Icelandic politicians and public office holders should be trained on a more professional approach concerning dealings with the foreign press
    My sentiments exactly, have been for years. Honestly, these people need some SERIOUS training in cultural literacy.

  • Gray, Germany February 10, 2009, 5:51 pm

    “these people need some SERIOUS training in cultural literacy”

    But you can’t train an old dog to do new tricks!
    The easier solution would be to never let those guys talk to with the press without a diplomatic translator being present, who will stremline their statements into an acceptable form. This should be no problem, Iceland seems to have such talented people. And they would love the extra salary, because the price of fresh herbs has reached shocking heights!
    😀

  • Dean February 10, 2009, 6:24 pm

    Just a thought: perhaps the Central Bank directors are refusing to quit as a ruse in order to buy time so they could shred documents and delete incriminating computer files. They know they’re gone, so they might as well cover up any evidence of criminal behaviour.

    If that’s the case the government should cut power and water to the Central Bank HQ to keep everything intact.

  • Lino February 10, 2009, 7:47 pm

    >the current form of interim government is the best possible option at present (…) they have 80 days to prove what they can do, and then we will hold elections

    the best possible option but surely not good enough: by definition and interim government is sort of caretaker, void of real power, power to change and take bold though painful initiatives. Just to administer current affairs: I would hardly define the state of crisis “current”.
    80 days can be an eternity and then 80 day to achieve what? A new government? And then?
    Other than a distraction from real problems, do these election serve any useful purpose? Instead of thinking who’s going to be the next PM, has anyone started serious thinking now on what to do, whoever the next PM will be?
    I have the neat impression that no one has an inkling of what will happen and needs to be done

  • The Other Katherine Harris February 10, 2009, 8:52 pm

    The longer Doddsson and his boyz can drag out their exit, the more opportunity they gain to locate and destroy evidence of their crimes. Bet the shredders in the “ebony tower” are running 24/7.

    Quite possibly they’re still doing some inside-dealing with the world’s other Central Banksters, too.

    Of course you’ll eventually oust them — they can’t fail to know that — but for the moment time’s on their side.

    Congrats and love to all the Saucepan Revolutonaries, who’re setting an example others will follow,
    Erin

  • The Other Katherine Harris February 10, 2009, 8:54 pm

    Oh, belatedly I saw that Dean has the same idea — and his notion of cutting the power is terrific, don’t you think?

  • Steve February 10, 2009, 11:34 pm

    >and his notion of cutting the power is terrific, don’t you think?

    Haven’t you people seen Die Hard? He wants you to do that – cutting the power opens the final lock on the vault!