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May 7, 2021

To be or not to be … Minister

Romania changes its Ministers just as frequently as Romanians change their pant… we mean socks. So often, that options are running out and the same names keep being rolled at several Ministries, emphasizing the popular idea that Romanians are good at many things, yet, they excel in nothing.

So far, I have seen Ministers humiliatedly leaving the door of a Ministry and proudly entering another, swearing, with their hand on the Bible, to gift their entire power and their entire competency for the spiritual and material benefit of the Romanian nation.”

Among these, there were quite a number of Culture Ministers that stood out. But they failed to stand out due to their impressive achievements at the lead of a Ministry and at managing a budget; they stood out due to their terrible gaffes, inexcusable both because they came out of the mouths of people who were supposed to manage the development of one country’s culture and for what they revealed – major knowledge gaps in the field these people were assigned to manage.

Recently installed in the leading position at Culture, the young Ionut Vulpescu made a huge gaffe after a short period of doing quite fine, since he was appointed. On April 23, he attended one event dedicated to International Book Day, and given his quality as the Head of Culture, Vulpescu used the opportunity to speak about the importance of reading throughout the year. It seemed like a great idea, yet the Minister of Culture made a tremendous error, by mistaking a character for a writer. And not just any character with any author, but William Shakespeare and his famous hero Hamlet. More precisely, after talking about the importance of reading all over the year, Ionut Vulpescu wanted to remind his listeners that Book Day was also the day to celebrate William Shakespeare. He did not say this though; instead, he declared in an interview for Realitatea TV, that the day of April 23 is connected to some of the greatest writers ever given by the human race, Cervantes and Hamlet”. Any reasons, excuses and mitigations are in vain, and Ionut Vulpescu’s image, regardless of his competency and devotion, just got stained irremediably. Yet, it is no problem. Soon, we will see him again, leading the Finances, the Tourism or, why not, Education itself, where the same trio of massive success, consisting of appointments, gaffes and resignations, is still going on.

And, while we are at the topic of gaffes, we cannot help remembering other Ministers of Culture who have spent quite a short time leading the Ministry whose boss changes so often that neither the cleaning lady, nor the bored office clerks know who their boss is right now. A short time before Vulpescu was appointed at the Ministry, Daniel Barbu was shattered and shattered us all with his stup… endous remark: “During the debates for the budget of 2014, I was perplexed and truly shattered by the following thing. Believe me, I do not want to seem cynical to you, with all due respect for the respective category ofour fellow countrymen. The budget, the national program for preventing and treating HIV / AIDS is half of the budget all programs of the Ministry of Culture are based on. (…) There are no millions of our fellow countrymen suffering of this hideous epidemic of our time. I personally do not understand. I was shattered at realizing how many Shakespeare Festivals we could do or how ample the Shakespeare Festival in Craiova could be if we stopped that program or at least cut it to half”, Minister Daniel Barbu said. Is there anything more to add?

Let us also mention the Education Ministers who had said that Romulus and Remus were raised by a fox, the Ministers who have made terrible grammar mistakes, or the Ministers leading Transportation who admitted that they had never traveled by train or by subway; who had accused themselves of the „misfortune” that happened during their term, not of their failure to manage them, those who have proved that they did not know Romania’s history, that had stolen shamelessly and then, they spread myrrh all over themselves while crying and reading prayers in the Parliament, publicly. And yet, is there any use to do so, when it seems that any beginner can train by leading a Ministry?



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