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opinion
Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

Screwdrivers

The Popular Party took two personal computers from Luis Bárcenas and had their hard disks carefully erased, rendering them useless as evidence in court

The close-up in a video on a popular TV show showed a portable computer that was picked up and turned over so that a quick-fingered technician could take the screws out, lift off the lid and extract the hard disk from its entrails like a cake of soap. Meanwhile, a voice off camera explained how the two personal computers, which the Popular Party took from Luis Bárcenas and which were demanded by a judge, had been delivered to him after all their content had been carefully erased, rendering them useless as evidence.

Another video showed PP official and frequent media spokesman, Carlos Floriano, explaining that the PP subjected Bárcenas' computers to the same treatment "as all other computers that are party material." That is, he admitted first, that the computers belonged to Bárcenas, and second, that they had been subjected to a treatment identical to that of all other computers. This supposedly routine procedure, adduced in justification, is in fact a confession of criminal tampering with evidence in a case currently before the courts. Precisely because they were the computers of Luis Bárcenas, they ought to have been set aside and delivered to the judge with their contents intact.

Let us now turn our attention to the admirable verbal dexterity of the all-purpose deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, in the weekly press conferences that follow every Cabinet meeting. Other party biggies and spokesmen shirk their obligations to the media in the most shameful manner, delegate them to underlings and scuttle away down the back stairs - or, untouchable like the risen Christ, make virtual appearances on the plasma screen. Soraya, on the contrary, the champion of transparency (she never ceases to remind us that this government has brought a bill to that effect) appears invariably every Friday in the company of the minister most to hand. You might take the trouble to Google "Moncloa" and click successively on the option "Multimedia," "Videos" and "Cabinet," until you reach the recording of the ping-pong game of questions from journalists and the ministerial responses.

You could not conceive a company executive without a screwdriver as in the TV show

In these sessions it is hard to decide what is in its way more admirable: the minute delectation with which the wonderful glib lady leads the exchange into the byways of flowery gardens that nobody had expressed curiosity about, or the quick reflexes with which she finds the angle most suited for slipping out from under direct questions of an inconvenient nature - or if no such angle comes to mind explains calmly that the question is inappropriate to the particular context of this session, as if it were an academic seminar. On the most recent occasion, last Friday, journalists wished to know if the PP's way of cooperating with the courts took the form of handing over to the judge the computers he had demanded after having emptied them of their memories. The answer to this sticky question posed no problems to the deputy prime minister, who said that the conduct of political parties was out of her purview "when they act as companies."

As if you could not conceive a company executive without a screwdriver as in the TV show. Of course, any private company would have been more attentive to its obligations to the judge, and would have refrained from destroying evidence, all the more so in the case of a "disloyal employee" caught in a fraud. And of course the PP, like other political parties, is a company sui generis, since more than 90 percent of its operating budget proceeds from public funds.

The other day the PP invited a number of columnists to a sort of warm-up exercise for the coming political season. One politician was heard to say that Rajoy was sufficiently protected from the flak of the corruption scandal by his remark that "nothing and nobody is going to distract us from the work of governing." Which amounts to an admission that he is already somewhat distracted.

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