The problem with Aoun is that he doesn't only want to be president, he wants to be a terminator. There is currently no guarantee that once he's in power, he won't become another Emile Lahoud. After all, a person is what he does, and Aoun's actions so far have shown his opportunism, a trait he shares with others in the Lebanese political sphere, and his unfortunate willingness to prostitute an entire community in order to reach his goals.
At a time of national crisis and foreign terror, Aoun put his interests above the interests of the country. Aoun's supporters might object to the above. He is, after all, the one who remotely guided them into seemingly courageous confrontations with the oppressive pro-Syrian authorities, at a time other leaders chose the comfort of pragmatic coexistence. But what good is your past glory if your present actions have the effects of Syrian-sponsored political destabilization?
Nobody asked Aoun to merge with the arguably corrupt post-Taef political class. Nobody expected him to enter into marriage with Jumblatt and Hariri on the lofty grounds of opposition to Syria. That would have been wrong. In fact, much of what Aoun says regarding the laxity and incompetence of the March 14 forces is true. But Aoun's great failing lies in shamelessly holding the country and the Christian community hostage to his presidential aspirations, and by unfortunate consequence, to those of Syria and its allies.
Aoun sees himself as the undisputed leader of Lebanese Christians. He claims that he represents around 80 per cent of Christians in Lebanon, and he unjustly defines any opposition to him as an attempt to ignore and marginalize Christians. But if Aoun wants others to acknowledge his representational power, he doesn't care to hide his derision of what he calls the "temporary majority", whose representational power he belittles every occasion he gets.
Aoun accuses March 14 of not abiding by the rules of democracy. He may be right. But it is not certain that Aoun is fit to play by those rules either. He plainly refuses to recognize the authority of election winners—the same faulty election that gave him his current mandate. Whoever disagrees with Aoun is struck with his flames of fury and labeled "imaginary" or worse, "temporary". Opposition to his way (as opposed to the March 14 way), he tells us, will bring death and mayhem. A protest to remove Lahoud, he has said, may result in the burning of downtown Beirut. Any street protest to remove Lahoud, which he incredibly labels as "undemocratic", will be countered with protest to the government palace, he threatened. Such irresponsible and sulfurous statements made in the insincere defense of Lahoud's sham presidency have raised eyebrows everywhere from Ashrafieh to Washington.
March 14 is justified in not trusting his intentions, especially in light of his opportunistic alliance with Hizbullah and casual talk about the burning of the heart of Lebanon's capital, which has become a symbol of coexistence. He recently said he intends to be president for a short period of time, before dissolving the parliament and calling for a fresh election, even if it's done according to the 2000 law which he bemoaned in the past. Keen political observers would tell you that this blind and random war against his opponents could backfire not just on himself, but the entire country.
The General may have positioned himself as the only viable candidate, but he has not successfully sold himself as an attractive candidate to those who want to see a real end to Syrian hegemony in the country, and the birth of an independent and modern state. This is not a problem of perception. It is Aoun's failure to come across as an honest and sane politician.
Aoun's dishonesty aside, the fact that he remains the only candidate is symptomatic of the colossal failure of the March 14 grouping, which has not succeeded in doing anything beyond drawing up compromises and lately, uninspired deal making and open-ended confrontations. They have recently acquired good trash talking skills to complement their excessive and backward-looking posthumous glorification. This almost denies them the right to reject Aoun, when they haven’t bothered to put forward an alternative candidate, preferring to lobby instead for constitutional vacuum. It will be a great day of shame for them when they, after all that has been said and done, vote this man into office.