N.L.’s political cir­cus has the same tired old acts

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL - Bob Wake­ham

I was al­ready reel­ing this past week from the dis­missal at the White House Cir­cus of the Michael Cor­leone im­i­ta­tor, An­thony Scara­mucci —even his nick­name, “The Mooch,” sounded like a Mafia han­dle, as in “Ice Pick Wil­lie,” “Johnny Sausages” or “Baby Shanks” — when word came down lo­cally from that high and windy hill on the Park­way that Cathy (The Burger Queen) Ben­nett was aban­don­ing her cabi­net col­leagues and be­ing re­placed by Tom (The No­mad) Os­borne.

But, un­like “The Mooch,” who only lasted a week or so in the Trump Big Top, just long enough to force a shuf­fling of clowns, The Burger Queen and The No­mad have been around our block for a good many years, cer­tainly long enough to ac­cu­mu­late com­mon de­nom­i­na­tors of shame and blame, play­ers in a merry-go-round of de­ci­sion­mak­ers who have con­spired to keep New­found­land perched as the tar­get in a car­ni­val dunk tank.

Ben­nett and Os­borne are, of course, con­nected — an­other ex­am­ple of the six de­grees of em­bar­rass­ing sep­a­ra­tion that has al­ways dom­i­nated New­found­land pol­i­tics, the un­for­tu­nate fact that it mat­ters lit­tle who oc­cu­pies the govern­ment of­fices in Con­fed­er­a­tion Build­ing be­cause the elec­torate al­ways seems to be ad­just­ing to the same damn Q and A. (With an in­sin­cere apol­ogy on my part to Ms. Brown­ing for the crude ripoff: “How do I screw thee, oh New­found­land? Let me count the ways.”)

Os­borne, The No­mad, is ac­tu­ally in a rel­a­tively unique po­si­tion: the one-time Tory, one-time in­de­pen­dent, now Lib­eral, has been ap­pointed as the chief fi­nan­cial wiz for a govern­ment that has ig­nored its own re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and spent the last num­ber of years blam­ing past PC ad­min­is­tra­tions for the eco­nomic mess in which the province finds it­self. For those with a short me­mory: don’t for­get Os­borne was a min­is­ter in the Danny Wil­liams govern­ment when it was par­lay­ing high oil prices into a spend­ing spree as if there were no to­mor­row. So: Os­borne is now in charge of clear­ing up a mess that had its ge­n­e­sis dur­ing the time he sat around the cabi­net ta­ble. The irony is pal­pa­ble.

It’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for him to have the gall, to have the face, to con­tinue with the Ball govern­ment’s ar­gu­ment that it was the ine­bri­ated sailor rou­tine con­ducted by the Tories that has put New­found­land in such a pickle; af­ter all, Os­borne was swab­bing that same deck.

Even in a busi­ness where the op­er­a­tors are char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally known to have the faces of a rob­ber’s horse, it’s im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine Os­borne re­ply­ing in the House of Assem­bly to tough ques­tions about his fi­nan­cial poli­cies with the re­sponse that he’s been stuck with the fall­out from past Tory ac­tions.

Un­less, of course, he wants to be per­fectly hon­est: “Mr. Speaker, we in­her­ited an aw­ful sit­u­a­tion. And I know from where I speak about the atro­cious moves of the Tories to buy pop­u­lar­ity and elec­tions with oil money. I was there, Mr. Speaker.”

And Os­borne was also a mem­ber of ad­min­is­tra­tions that ar­ro­gantly ig­nored the warn­ings of bonafide ex­perts that Muskrat Falls had the mak­ings of a dis­as­ter, one that could put New­found­land in an eco­nomic tail­spin from which it might never re­cover.

So, as the new min­is­ter of Fi­nance, he can’t pos­si­bly de­flect ques­tions about the Muskrat Falls hor­ror show by blam­ing Wil­liams, Dun­derdale and com­pany, un­less, un­less…: “Yes, Mr. Speaker, I know from where I speak. I was there. I was in cabi­net. I was in cau­cus.”

But he just might be able to get away with that sort of shot to his own head, given the fact that New­found­lan­ders seem to have con­tracted am­ne­sia about the Muskrat Falls abyss. The lat­est polls show the Tories, those same Tories who pushed Muskrat Falls down the throats of New­found­lan­ders, with a sub­stan­tial lead over Ball and the Lib­er­als (the NDP are a dis­tant third, as has been a sad, but nor­mal fact of life for just about the party’s en­tire ex­is­tence, vot­ers un­will­ing to give the third party at least a shot to shine or flop).

Paul Davis, noth­ing but a lead­er­ship con­ven­tion premier, is sud­denly hav­ing sec­ond thoughts about his de­par­ture from the Tory lead­er­ship, and might be our next premier, a man who was part of an ad­min­is­tra­tion that sprung the lat­est white ele­phant onto our gullible paws.

Davis, Os­borne, Ben­nett (the for­mer mem­ber of the board of di­rec­tors of Nal­cor, its chair for a while), all cut from the same ig­no­min­ious cloth.

How can we pos­si­bly take any so­lace in this lat­est shuf­fling of the in­ner cir­cle of the Ball govern­ment’s in­tel­li­gentsia?

The Burger Queen out, The No­mad in.

At least that cir­cus to the south of us has some en­ter­tain­ment value.

For those with a short me­mory: don’t for­get Os­borne was a min­is­ter in the Danny Wil­liams govern­ment when it was par­lay­ing high oil prices into a spend­ing spree as if there were no to­mor­row.

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