EDITORIAL: Pillow talk

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When Prime Minister Gaston Browne revealed that his wife Maria is considering offering herself for public office, the conspiracy theorists in our bit of paradise, if they had been gathered together in a room, would have shouted in unison, “See, I told you so!” They would have been overjoyed to have their theory verified by none other than the prime minister. For conspiracy theorist, that is like winning an award.
For some time, we have heard serious rumors that the PM was promoting his wife as a potential candidate in the upcoming election. We also heard that former Prime Minister Lester Bird was promoting his daughter, Rika. So, if the conspiracy theorists are right, Michael Freeland never had a chance.
To hear the conspiracy theorists tell it, the prime minister is unsure of his ability to keep his grasp on power within the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) and has launched a plan to oust those who he perceives as threats and replace them with persons loyal to him.
We have always dismissed the talk as far-fetched because Gaston Browne seems to have a firm grip on power in the ABLP, and we have never perceived any desire from Mrs. Browne to enter politics. Plus, the rumor originated with conspiracy theorists, and how many times are they right?
Let’s not forget, we were told earlier this year, when Share Incorporated was suspended, that the main reason for taking the action was due to political “nastiness” and “ridicule” that was coming from the opposition. While speaking in parliament about the announcement, PM Browne said, “We’ve taken the decision to suspend the operations of Share in order to avert the nastiness that is taking place.”
In defending his wife and the decision at the time, the PM declared, “My wife is a beautiful, young lady, and I don’t want individuals to be spreading propaganda about her and trying to ridicule her in public when she has not done anything wrong.” For this very reason, we are wondering
what has changed? Is the general thought that because she is, who she is, she will not be the target of propaganda and ridicule? If it is, then everyone who shares that thought should divorce themselves of it immediately.
Politics is a brutal, ugly game. And, in Antigua and Barbuda, we play a particular version that is not for the weak-kneed or faint of heart. Not that we are saying that the good lady is weak in any way, just that if she thought it was hot in the Share Incorporated frying pan, then that would be considered a cold winter day when compared to the heat that she would be exposed to in the political fire of becoming a candidate in the election.
Now, before we go any further, we will like to say that we are always happy to see more women run for political office. And to those who say that she does not have any experience, tell us what percentage of the current crop of candidates do? So, if you want to attack on the basis of gender or experience, you better ‘wheel and come again.’
As political observers, we are very keen to see how this all plays out. We let our imagination drift to a world where Gaston is the prime minister and his wife, Maria Browne, is an elected member of parliament with ministerial portfolios, sitting as a trusted member of the Cabinet. Can you imagine the bacchanal? We can see fellow ministers either liking the idea or absolutely hating it.  
Jealousy would reign because there would be a perception that the PM’s wife would get preferential treatment and benefit from her unique and privileged  position. If you are lost by what we mean, it is called pillow talk, those intimate, confidential conversations that occur between partners, especially when ‘relaxed.’ Those types of conversations occur only in an environment that would be the exclusive domain of PM Browne and his wife, Maria, off-limits to other Cabinet colleagues!
Be that as it may, it would be interesting to see what portfolios the PM might assign his wife. If they are nice and juicy, then the aforementioned jealousy will take root, and there may be some backlash. If the portfolio is lightweight, then the PM may have to deal with a bit of backlash at home.
Now, for all of you who are working yourself up with this scenario, relax. Nothing has been confirmed, yet. Prime Minister Browne has simply said that his wife “is being pursued by constituents, individuals from Rural East constituency, including members of the branch executive,” adding, “I would say that she is giving very serious consideration to it.”
To that, we say, “Well played Rural East! Well played, indeed.”
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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