Something peculiar is going on between Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his vice president, Gen. Hamilton Mourão.
Late last month, Bolsonaro was scheduled for a surgical procedure to remove the colostomy bag he’d been using since being stabbed ahead of the presidential election. Before he went under the knife, Bolsonaro told his advisers that he would not turn over the powers of the presidency to Mourão while in surgery. A few days earlier, Mourão had made the most of the four days he spent as acting president while Bolsonaro was in Davos, Switzerland, by publicly undercutting his boss on a series of key issues in interviews with the press.
Members of Bolsonaro’s cabinet were “irritated” by his decision not to bestow Mourão with presidential powers, Época magazine reported. And the unofficial word coming from Bolsonaro’s office was that he hadn’t been “properly advised on the delicacy of the surgery.” Eventually, he would reverse course and signed over executive powers for 48 hours — but not the full 17 days he would spend in the hospital.
The whole saga nicely encapsulates Bolsonaro’s young presidency: mistrust sowing internal division; a leak; the unmasking of the president’s ignorance; and then, eventually, a forced reversal.
Bolsonaro rose to power thanks to a hodgepodge far-right coalition that came together just long enough to get the 63-year-old politician elected president of Brazil. But that coalition has spent all 53 days of his tenure in office eating itself alive. The rhetoric of Bolsonaro’s campaign crashed into the reality of his government with resounding thunder. Indecisiveness; power struggles leaked to the media; revelations of a son’s links to an organized crime boss; and multiple corruption allegations have dogged the president as he walked back campaign promises and stumbled through the turbulent, sometimes nonsensical, early days of the new administration.
So much has happened over the last 7 1/2 weeks that it’s impossible to take stock of it all. But by looking through the wreckage, perhaps you can get a sense of Brazil’s political life as of late.
Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão leaves the vice presidential office in Brazil on Jan. 28, 2019.
Photo: Jorge William/Agência O Globo (GDA via AP Images)
As Bolsonaro World quickly melts into a puddle,