Wednesday, 10 March 2010

So long, MB

After the extraordinary bad luck of having to deal with a massive earthquake in her last days in office, yesterday's poll showing that Michelle Bachelet's popularity remained at stratospheric levels must have been a welcome going away present for her. It also got me wondering about the phenomenon. Why is Bachelet so popular?

No single answer is enough. As I write in this column, there is a Reaganesque quality to her (a description I am sure she would hate). As with Reagan, Bachelet has come to be a smiling symbol of optimism and a better future. She leaves office coated in Teflon.

But she is more than a happy face. The policies, the hard work, the strength in the face of adversity, are all things that are directed to, and can be related to by Chileans from every background, but especially lower middle class Chileans.

In my piece, I hint at the PR machine around Bachelet, but I am not quite that cynical. I think the PR strategy is to sell a product that is genuine. In today's politics, it's not enough to care, you have to care on camera. Everyone from John Paul II to Mother Teresa to Princess Diana knew that. So does the soon-to-be-ex-president.

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