Brazil's crafty Senate boss helps keep Rousseff afloat
By Anthony Boadle
BRASILIA Aug 30 (Reuters) - Renan Calheiros took an Air Force jet to get hair implants and was accused of letting a lobbyist pay child support to a journalist he had an affair and a child with.
Either episode would have derailed many politicians but corruption allegations have not kept Calheiros, the 59-year-old president of Brazil's Senate, from making himself a go-to partner in the chaotic dance of Brazilian politics.
President Dilma Rousseff, her government beset by economic and corruption crises that some believe could cost her the presidency, is the latest to take his hand.
With the power to stall legislation and conduct an impeachment of Rousseff that some opponents seek, Calheiros instead has dropped his former obstruction to Rousseff's initiatives and proposed a series of business-friendly measures designed to give her hamstrung government a little traction.
The turnaround provides much needed relief for Rousseff at a time when Brazil's economy is mired in recession, her governing coalition is in tatters and many political and business leaders are behind bars because of a massive corruption scandal around Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras.
"She was drowning in a whirlpool and he threw her a lifeline," said David Fleischer, politics professor emeritus at the University of Brasilia.
But the pairing, fellow politicians warn, is very much one of convenience.
In Calheiros, they see a man eager to avoid the fate of Eduardo Cunha, a fellow party member and speaker of the lower house of Congress, who was recently charged in the kickback scandal at Petrobras. Continuación...