Friday, February 6, 2015

Post Turtles & Other Distractions...

While stitching a cut on the hand of a 75 year old farmer whose hand was caught in his gate while working, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.
Eventually the topic got around to politicians and their role as our leaders.
The farmer said, "Well, as I see it, most politicians are 'Post Turtles'.''
Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post turtle' was.
The old farmer said, "When you're driving down a road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."
The old farmer saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain. "You know he didn't get up there by himself, he doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, he's elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb fool put him up there to begin with."

On Monday evening of last week Kamla Persad Bissessar attempted to hoodwink the nation by reshuffling her Cabinet, when all that was expected of her under the circumstances was a firing of an Attorney General alleged to have engaged in the most reprehensible behavior, bringing the office he held and the government by extension into wild disrepute. That's it. A simple announcement - “Ladies and gentlemen, by now most of you would be aware of some serious accusations eating away at the heart of my administration centered in the person of the Attorney General, and in the interest of justice and good governance I have asked him to step aside and allow a speedy investigation into these allegations to clear his good name. Good night and best wishes to all of you, God bless Trinidad & Tobago.” That's it. Punto finale as we like to say.

That was all that was required of her and, done exactly as I outlined, would have given her an instant bump in the polls. But that is not what she did. 

And by dragging everyone else along for the ride she inadvertently admitted that her government was already off the rails and became something of a co-conspirator after the fact in everything that flows from here. Reckless in the extreme from a leadership point of view, she used the opportunity as an attempt to shield more than address the accusations, and and in attempting to palm the dirt off onto others, smeared everyone simply by association. See how that works?

But this government, painfully bad at communicating and known to be veritable kings of unforced errors, took it one step further and actually set out to solve one problem by making it ten times worse.  Now the blowback of that gamble is creeping past the barricades, and the distractions that she and others mounted to keep the government from falling ironically might themselves be the cause of the collapse.

At this point of the reading, if you are shaking your head, no one would blame you, because now, above and beyond the allegations that the Attorney General attempted to pervert the course of justice through bribery, certain Ministers abandoned prudence and sensibility in the headlong rush to play arbiter and decider, and in their arrogance perverted the course of justice themselves. Are you seeing that?

This is where the science of communication gives way to the art of it. Knowing a tomato is a fruit is one thing, not using it in a fruit salad is something else. With much of her Cabinet tainted and her Communication Minister alleged to have engaged in an attempted strong-arming of a witness, another of her close circle in the person of her preferred advertiser is caught being creative with the truth. Shot in both feet and tottering, she yanks from her side and discards her best performing Minister for not coming to her with the allegations of misbehaviour by one of her Ministers, while almost in the same breath punished another who did. And if that were not enough, from among the pantheon of internationally acclaimed jurists we have in this country she chose a legal lightweight as Attorney General, leaving most to assume that competence in office and independent thought were not deciding factors on his being hired for the job. The rest of the appointees fail to pass muster for the roles thrust upon them (no disrespect intended to any), and the fact that they find themselves in positions simply due to political machinations should have been reason enough for them to decline the posts, rather than allow themselves to be hoisted upon them like turtles.

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