Writ­ten all over their face

The Packet (Clarenville) - - FRONT PAGE - Bob Wake­ham Bob Wake­ham has spent more than 40 years as a jour­nal­ist in New­found­land and Labrador. He can be reached by email at bwake­ham@nl.rogers.com

In con­trast last week to the piti­ful shots of Cros­bie and Pad­don, there was the smile from ear-to-ear of Pre­mier Dwight Ball.

You’d be hard-pressed to lo­cate a smile on the two mugs that seemed to jump off the web­sites of the Tele­gram and the lo­cal CBC one morn­ing last week.

Terry Pad­don, the au­di­tor gen­eral, had an un­der­stand­ably sor­row­ful puss, his last re­port be­fore tak­ing re­tire­ment not ex­actly an in­duce­ment to cel­e­bra­tory jigs from St. John’s to St. Jacques, pre­dict­ing, as it did, rough and tough eco­nomic times for the prov­ince.

The only other nearby face on the me­dia sites with an equally sad coun­te­nance be­longed to Ches Cros­bie, the de­meanour a re­sult of the fact, I would pre­sume, that the an­nounce­ment of his can­di­dacy for the PC lead­er­ship was vir­tu­ally lost in the head­lines to his rev­e­la­tion of be­ing caught by the cops drink­ing and driv­ing a cou­ple of decades ago and be­ing con­victed of re­fus­ing the breath­a­lyzer.

In one case (so to speak), we have the au­di­tor gen­eral pro­vid­ing New­found­lan­ders with the kind of in­for­ma­tion that would drive even the head of the to­tal ab­sti­nence so­ci­ety to im­bibe, and, in the other, a past in­ci­dence of il­le­gal drink­ing that might im­pede the present-day am­bi­tions of a fledg­ling politi­cian.

And con­tin­u­ing with booze as the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor here, I can’t help but note that much of this fi­nan­cial mess Pad­don is now de­scrib­ing had to have come about be­cause of the phi­los­o­phy of Danny Wil­liams and com­pany to make hay while the sun shone, when New­found­land briefly en­joyed a de­par­ture from its have-not sta­tus — a time when the Tories were singing “let’s for­get about to­mor­row” and spend­ing money, as the an­cient cliché goes, like drunken sailors.

I don’t know about you, but I take lit­tle so­lace in the re­ac­tion of Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tom Os­borne — a mem­ber of the Wil­liams ad­min­is­tra­tion, it should be noted again and again, with the op­er­at­ing mantra of live for to­day — to Pad­don’s gloom and doom pre­dic­tion, a re­sponse draped in the sort of plat­i­tudes politi­cians al­ways seem to lean on when con­fronted with trou­bling fi­nan­cial news: “strong fis­cal man­age­ment” will con­tinue, along with en­cour­ag­ing “strong eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,” blah, blah, blah.

And if you man­aged to get by Cros­bie’s con­fes­sion of get­ting nabbed by the cops 24 years ago in St. John’s, and read or heard about his plat­form and phi­los­o­phy, there were few de­tails there, as well, of any plans to coun­ter­act this plunge into the eco­nomic sewer we seem to be tak­ing, just more Os­borne-like gen­er­al­iza­tions: the wannabe leader is promis­ing to “re­build the econ­omy,” “re­store con­fi­dence in gov­ern­ment,” and “re­vi­tal­ize the PC party.” Wow. That should cause a stir­ring in the stock mar­kets, and cries from the fi­nan­cial wizards of “We want Ches! We want Ches!”

(Just get­ting back for a mo­ment or two to that driv­ing in­dis­cre­tion: how was it that Cros­bie’s con­vic­tion man­aged to stay on the q.t., to slip below the news radar back then? A promi­nent lawyer, son of po­lit­i­cal icon John Cros­bie, after all, in court, fac­ing se­ri­ous charges? Just won­der­ing.

Also, many of us — I use the word “us,” hav­ing, as I do, an im­paired driv­ing con­vic­tion on my record — would be cu­ri­ous as to how Cros­bie went about ob­tain­ing a par­don for his crime. Again, just won­der­ing).

In con­trast last week to the piti­ful shots of Cros­bie and Pad­don, there was the smile from ear-to-ear of Pre­mier Dwight Ball.

And who can blame the Man­nequin Man? After all, the lat­est polls in­di­cate that the pop­u­lar­ity of his gov­ern­ment is on the rise, a dra­matic change from just a few months back when the Lib­er­als were so far in the dumps that even Paul Davis was start­ing to re­con­sider his de­ci­sion to re­lin­quish his lead­er­ship of the PC party. (Davis, po­lit­i­cal his­to­ri­ans will cer­tainly note, has re­con­firmed that he’s def­i­nitely out of the race, leav­ing only the be­fore men­tioned Cros­bie, the Breath­a­lyzer Man, as the lone can­di­date).

There’s ob­vi­ously a fickle crowd of vot­ers out there, so if I was Ball, I wouldn’t take those lat­est re­sults to the Bank of Smiles.

Any day soon, he could be ap­pear­ing on a news agency web­site, with the kind of mourn­ful look we saw on Terry Pad­don and Ches Cros­bie.

One morn­ing.

Last week.

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