‘Somebody in trouble’… not us

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With all that is going on in Antigua & Barbuda, it came as a shock that the Cabinet would have had the time to debate criticisms of the prime minister to such an extent that it warranted a public pronouncement. 
We knew that politicians were becoming increasingly thin skinned, but we are now rethinking that assessment and wondering if they are just too self-absorbed with their image – obsessed with vanity, if you will.  (By the way, we have not abandoned our former assessment, but merely re-evaluating, at this point.)
One thing that we are certain about is that the new deflection tactics that we see with increasing regularity in other administrations across the world are popping up in our little bit of paradise as well.
 We refer, of course, to our observation of the rise of “Trumpism” and the shift of politics away from issues and towards personalities. The latest Cabinet pronouncement is another clear example of this new phenomenon.  
So that you understand, the Cabinet of Antigua & Barbuda has accused the media of publishing “alternative facts” and seeking to “denigrate the Prime Minister’s (Gaston Browne’s) standing”.  Unfortunately, the release did not name any specific media house but, as school -children say, “somebody in trouble”. 
We must admit, at first, there were some clues that made us think that Observer might have been the target, but when we reflected on the evidence before us, we had to yield ownership of the piece that ruffled all those feathers.  
The first thing is that we did not mention any “alternative facts” in our piece, so we doubt that we were the source.  As a matter of fact, we specifically stated that we would not be dealing in “alternative facts”.  Secondly, the government is never bashful about bashing us.  Observer seems to slip off politicians’ tongues with great ease, so the lack of positive identity is further evidence that we were not the toe-mashers.  (Maybe.) 
Before we go on, and as an aside, we have to give some credit to Kellyanne Conway, the Counselor to US President Donald Trump, for coining the phrase “alternative facts”.  She has given the media and politicians a brilliant phrase that has swept into the current vernacular in record time.
She is also the queen of diversion and has honed “Trumpism” to an art.  After hearing the latest Cabinet pronouncement, the conspiracy theorist are beginning to believe that Ms. Conway had temporarily relocated to Antigua & Barbuda and was giving lessons, since being sidelined for conflicting with Trump on a few issues.  Where do they come up with this stuff?
In any case, what we have witnessed with this Cabinet pronouncement is exactly the deflecting behaviour that we observed and commented on before.  It follows the same pattern, almost like it comes from a playbook.  1) Ignore, downplay or deny the issue and the criticism.  2) Insult the Continued on page 16
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person or organization making the criticism. 3) Reference how great you are, while also claiming to be the victim. 
Follow those three simple steps and hopefully people will begin to talk about what was said rather than what was done.  Unfortunately, it is a strategy that appears to be working; both here and overseas.   It relies on political and ideological division and that is certainly the state of affairs, or at the very least, the direction we are heading.
Be that as it may, we are not going anywhere.  We will not be detracted by “alternative facts” and we will not take the bait.  We will continue to ask the questions and raise the awareness of our readers and listeners of what is going on around them.
And while we are on the topic of asking questions, we have one for Health Minister Molwyn Joseph.  He is quoted as saying “the prime minister’s objective was to motivate the young people in whose circumstances he was born and grew up”.  Can he explain how handouts motive people who may be in whatever circumstances that he is referring? 
Maybe that question is better posed to the prime minister since he is the one, according to the health minister, with the experience in those circumstances.  Did he have a life changing experience as a child, after an adult unexpectedly gave him some cash?  For the record, these are not rhetorical questions; we really want to know.
The release also quotes Director General of Communications Maurice Merchant as saying  “Cabinet Ministers deplore the willingness of certain sections of the media to allow themselves to be used in what is clearly a campaign by members of the United Progressive Party (UPP) to degrade the Prime Minister …”    We couldn’t agree more.  We join Mr Merchant in admonishing any independent media entity that will allow their organization to be used by any political party to do their dirty work.  The work of the independent media is to report and educate, not to facilitate politicians and their agendas.  Enough said.
Going full circle, we leave you with the wise words of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain.  The great American writer was quoted to have said, “It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.”
 We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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