Yesterday I decided to call these two men and ask them what they thought about the highly publicized dialogue between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the farmer in Mersin, in which Erdogan said to the farmer "Don't put on such a show, lan." ('Lan' in Turkish means 'you there' or 'man,' and is generally considered a pejorative, and definitely not polite language.) I couldn't reach Cem Yilmaz, but I talked to Yilmaz Erdogan, who asserted that this behavior on the part of Erdogan would certainly not lose him votes in the coming election period. Here is the comedian's interesting observation: "When Erdogan is angered, he turns into himself, and becomes very real. He speaks like one of us. I think his talk to the farmer was very real. The only problematic part was the part about the farmer's mother."
I took a little poll in my close circle of friends and collegues, and came to the conclusion that, while almost no one condoned Erdogan's use of hard street jargon with the farmer, almost no one thinks it's going to lose him votes either. In fact, some people think it might even win him some.
I am of the same mind.
I should even admit that the fact that the PM called the angry citizen who had yelled something at him over to his side to talk even came off as a likeable gesture to me. There is a basic truth in politics: in order to be successful, you have to be different, and make a difference. When your opponents all resemble one another, you have to use the qualities which make you stand out to your best advantage. The PM does this very well.
And so, when it comes to the question of the PM, I ask: which do you prefer, a prime minister who doesn't go out and talk to the people, or someone proud enough to argue with a citizen in front of the TV cameras? For politicians who are hoping to profit from this "lan" incident, there is really something worth thinking about here.