In many ways I think I understand the Fidesz mindset, but questions still remain about the thought processes of individual party leaders. When they say things that are untrue, do they believe their own words? Are they cynical or uneducated?
Admittedly, sometimes they are simply painfully ignorant. After the Hungarian media spent days on the controversy surrounding the possible renaming of Roosevelt Square that honors Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lajos Kósa, who has often been described as a half-educated country bumpkin, explained in an interview to an equally uneducated journalist that in fact the square's name has nothing to do with FDR but with "the other one who lived during World War I and who prevented the Romanians from emptying the contents of the Hungarian National Museum."
Honest to goodness, I had to listen to the video at least three times because I simply couldn't believe my ears. It's true that there was an "another Roosevelt," Theodore, and it is true that he was also a president of the United States (1901-1909), but he certainly couldn't have prevented the Romanians from doing anything in August 1919 because he died in January of the same year. The president who could have done something about the Romanian behavior in Budapest was Woodrow Wilson, but he was sitting in Washington with other things on his mind. The man Kósa most likely remembered, however vaguely, was Major General Harry Hill Bandholtz (1864–1925), the U.S. representative of the Allied Military Mission in Hungary in 1919 who hated the Romanians with a gusto. After the war he wrote an amusing book entitled An Undiplomatic Diary by the American Member of the Allied Military Mission in Hungary, 1919-1920. Bandholtz, riding whip in hand, apparently "escorted out" the Romanian soldiers from the Museum. And it wasn't Woodrow Wilson who instructed Bandholtz to do anything in Budapest in August-September 1919. Bandholtz acted on his own.
Kósa confidently spouted off this nonsensical history, and the journalist kept repeating: "Of course, of course!" It was pitiful.
Admittedly, Kósa doesn't have the reputation of being particularly bright. So, let's move on to someone who is styled an "intellectual." A really sharp guy. I'm talking about József Szájer, who has been tucked away in Brussels ever since Hungary became a member of the European Union. He is currently the leader of the large Fidesz delegation to the European Parliament. But since the Hungarian media do not extensively cover the happenings of the European Union or the activities of the delegations, not much had been heard of Szájer. People were therefore surprised when Szájer became perhaps the most important man in drafting the constitution. The reaction to his appointment was on the whole positive, even by the opposition: "at least he knows something about constitutional law." So, here is someone who is generally considered to be smart, well versed in the law, and a man with ample political experience who considers "the consultation concerning the creation of a new constitution a grand national undertaking."
Yes, Szájer is talking about those absolutely infantile twelve questions the government felt necessary to ask the electorate in the last minute in order to prove to the world that this new constitution is not just Viktor Orbán's or Fidesz's constitution but belongs to the nation as a whole. First of all, only about ten percent of the people actually returned the questionnaires and second, the questions were so primitive and often irrelevant to the constitution that the whole exercise was no more than a cynical political game.
And yet Szájer, who belongs to the intellectual elite of Fidesz, can say with a straight face that the return of these questionnaires was "a great success." At no previous time were so many people involved in creating a constitution. This event is unparalleled in Hungarian history. And the people unequivocally endorsed the principles of the new constitution. For instance,"91% of the people consider the values of family, order, home, work, and health important." Can you imagine answering "no" to this question? No, I don't consider health, family, home, and order important. Let's have chaos, let's destroy the family, and who cares about health issues. Eighty-six percent thought that we should feel responsible for future generations. A great success, says Szájer, while I personally think that this number is too low. Apparently 91% were thrilled to see that the constitution from here on will include not only rights but also obligations. I'll bet that the respondents don't quite understand what the inclusion of this paragraph will entail. Seventy-four percent said "no" to Szájer's and as it turned out Orbán's favorite idea: to give an extra vote for women who have children. Seventy-two percent, however, agreed with the proposition that "the expenses of child rearing shouldn't be taxed." I'm not surprised about the number but I doubt that many respondents have any idea what is considered to be an expense of child rearing. Diapers? A nanny's salary?
And he goes on and on about the "great undertaking" that is unparalleled in Hungarian history. But there is one short paragraph in MTI's summary of the press conference that refers to the question about the unity of the nation and the feeling of responsibility for Hungarians living abroad. The number who answered in the affirmative was only 61%. Szájer optimistically noted that this is "a move in the right direction in comparison to the results of the referendum about dual citizenship in 2004" that failed. Let's face it, most likely the majority of the citizens of Hungary don't want to grant dual citizenship to Hungarians outside the borders, especially if that citizenship also entails voting rights. Moreover, if there are not two categories of citizenship, as Zsolt Semjén so often tells us, there is a very good possibility that soon enough these new quasi-citizens might want to have social benefits as well.
I left crassness to last. Tamás Deutsch, a member of the Fidesz EP delegation, is not considered to be an intellectual giant. But he has another problem as well. He doesn't seem to know what a public figure and politician can and can't say. Deutsch decided to have an Internet presence. A few days ago he wrote the following in Hungarian on Twitter: "Vannak szemét alakok. Vannak aljas emberek. Vannak rosszindulatú őrültek. Vannak irtózatos gecik. Vannak gusztustalan rohadékok. És van Gyurcsány." I had to search for the meaning of "gecik" and it wasn't easy to find. It has something to do with sperm. Herewith a tame translation. "There are vile people. There are madmen of ill-will. There are disgusting stinkers. There are loathsome faggots. And there is Gyurcsány."
Olga Kálmán in her interview with Ferenc Gyurcsány asked the former prime minister what he thought of these words. "Would you repeat the name of the gentleman mentioned? —Tamás Deutsch. —I don't know any decent and serious Hungarian man with such a name. Therefore I have nothing to do with this particular one."