It is with a great deal of surprise that we heard the news, delivered with a straight face, that MP Asot Michael was returning as the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party candidate for St. Peter. To say that this was a shocker to many Antiguans and Barbudans is putting it mildly. After all, the news was delivered by the prime minister who had, with much indignant posturing, summarily dismissed the same Asot Michael within hours of the good MP’s detention in London. At the time, the PM waxed eloquently, never mind piously, on the virtues of good governance and transparency and avoiding the very taint and appearance of impropriety around his government. Even when some questioned the speed with which the PM acted to cut loose one of his own and divvy up the good MP Michael’s portfolios, even though, by his own admission, he was not in possession of all the facts, and even though at a minimum, one would have expected the usual mumbo jumbo of “not rushing to judgement” and “innocent until proven guilty” and other such political speak in defence of a colleague, the PM cloaked himself in a garb of righteousness and acted as judge, jury and executioner. Remember these words, “Not in my government!”
More recently, the good PM, with much pomp and circumstance, and again cloaked in a garb of righteousness and the whole armour of God, so to speak, declared that a sitting senator would not be eligible to run in a certain constituency on the ruling regime’s ticket because of a matter involving a rather large sum of money (in excess of E.C. $100,000.00). What was rather curious was that the good PM seemed to have suddenly found religion because the matter surrounding the disappearance of the funds was over a year old, and yet the good senator was allowed by the good PM to sit, deliberate and vote on weighty matters of state, notwithstanding the cloud over his head. Indeed, the silence and lack of outrage in the Upper House was deafening, and with the exception of a tangential reference here and there, it was business as usual in Antigua and Barbuda’s greatest deliberative body. Again, think, “Not in my government!”
Which begs the obvious questions: Are there levels of guilt and culpability, much like the levels of guilt and damnation in Dante’s INFERNO? And if the
good MP, who was once declared “persona non grata” as an MP, is now “washed whiter than the driven snow,” is eligible to run as a candidate, why not the good senator who has expressed his regret at the incident and has, from some reports, made a good faith effort to repay the missing sums? In fact, based on the benign explanation offered by another senatorial colleague, the final installment on the repayment of the missing sums should already have been paid. So if Curly, why not Larry? The three stooges are not amused.
Seems, all the righteous indignation is as filthy rags, and something smells… fishy… in the so-called “State of Denmark!” Of course, we are following the thread of MP Joanne Massiah’s recent argument and echoing her clarion call for more transparency and more forthrightness when it comes to the convoluted and ever-shifting positions and explanations re the no-longer-backslidden Saint Michael and the ‘still-in-the-doghouse’ Senator Free-land. We concur with MP Massiah that if the PM is in possession of exculpatory information as pertains MP Michael, then the PM should share that information with all Antiguans and Barbudans. At the very least, so that the citizenry can make an informed decision when we go to the polls. Remember, the wheels of justice turn very slowly, and the case in London against the good MP may not be resolved before our next election.
Having said that, we are a bit perplexed at the, how can we put this delicately, ‘wishy-washy’ positions of our good PM. On the one hand, he breathes down fire and brimstone on all manner of corruption and untoward behaviour in “My government,” from his soap box, and then on the other, for political expediency, he conveniently sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil. It is enough to give the body politic a severe case of whiplash – the ever-shifting positions! It reminds us of former U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry who, in an attempt to explain his shifting positions on the Iraq war, famously declared, “I was for the war before I was against it!” Or better yet, the seemingly befuddled Lieutenant Columbo of television fame who once explained his exonerating and then accusatory
position to a suspect by deadpanning, “Don’t blame me. It is not me, it is my mind!” (chuckle) as if the two can be separated. (smile)
Of course, we subscribe to the notion that “On matters of principle, as opposed to matters of policy, there can be no compromise.” There can be no gray area. No twilight zone! Right is right and wrong is wrong! Sadly, too often in this political milieu, we are seeing that there are many who reside in that nebulous gray area of varying degrees of right and wrong, and flexibility in denouncing or condoning it. Thus, many erstwhile lepers are now declared clean and whole, whilst others are banished to Hades, not on principle, mind you, but on a self-serving policy. Think Shakespeare’s “Methinks thou dost protest too loudly!”
Meanwhile, it is with more than a bit of irony that we remind the readership of the righteous condemnation and denunciation rained down from on high re the Sandals saga. That self-righteous preening and prancing was fecklessly followed by an agreement to extend to another investor the same concessions that were decried as so egregiously wrong. Hmmm! Two-faced? Mealy-mouthed? Some of our politicians speak with a forked tongue!
All our righteousness … indeed!