Take heart, fel­low ‘de­sign­ers of dis­so­nance!’

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Rick Wayne

For all I know, Pauli­nus Si­mon may well be a fig­ment pro­ceed­ing from the smoke-oppressed brain of Earl Bous­quet, former of­fi­cial mouth­piece of re­cently de­posed prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony, since De­cem­ber 11, like a Dig­i­cel phone pre­pro­grammed to roam.

Although I have come across more than one news­pa­per col­umn by Si­mon, I have yet to meet the man, not even ac­ci­den­tally, at the var­i­ous venues pa­tron­ized by full- and part-time jour­nal­ists, week­end scrib­blers and sundry mas­querad­ing party hacks prospect­ing for free booze.

Much the same may be said of Thomas Payne and Maryana What­sher­name, con­ceiv­ably both Bous­quet as­so­ciates, if noth­ing else, by virtue of their con­nec­tions with the once proud Cru­sader, now do­ing egre­gious dis­ser­vice to the hard-earned lit­er­ary rep­u­ta­tion of its de­ceased pub­lisher Ge­orge Od­lum.

The fact that their pho­to­graphs have never dec­o­rated the col­umns by Payne, Maryana and Si­mon makes me all the more sus­pi­cious. No mat­ter— and never mind the tell-tale idio­syn­cra­sies—for the pur­poses of this fea­ture I can pre­tend to be­lieve the mentioned colum­nists are not merely Bous­quet pseu­do­nyms. In the pub­lic in­ter­est, I now res­ur­rect an item by Si­mon that ap­peared in the April 29, 2000 is­sue of the Voice, en­ti­tled It is the Peo­ple, Not the One-Man Me­dia That Maketh The Gov­ern­ment.

Clearly, Si­mon’s think­ing is un­com­mon. For in this par­tic­u­lar age when, es­pe­cially for politi­cians, pub­lic per­cep­tion is every­thing, it’s a strange no­tion that the colum­nist clings to. Whether in the United States, Bri­tain or Saint Lucia, vot­ers to a large ex­tent re­act to what they read about elec­tion can­di­dates or see nightly on TV. Yes, the peo­ple ul­ti­mately elect or dis­pose of gov­ern­ments,

c’est vrai. But only a fool would stub­bornly deny the im­pact of the me­dia on pub­lic per­cep­tions.

Then again, the cited Si­mon ar­ti­cle was pub­lished nearly seven years ago, when his acolytes still be­lieved Kenny An­thony ca­pa­ble of mir­a­cles, among them walk­ing on duck ponds; when the prime min­is­ter was still self-con­vinced of his own in­fal­li­bil­ity, to say noth­ing of his abil­ity to color the sky to suit his chameleonic moods.

Of course, the one thing Kenny An­thony has never been able to do is con­vince him­self that Kenny An­thony is Kenny An­thony’s worst en­emy. Re­al­ity for him has al­ways been what he says is re­al­ity.

A more re­al­is­tic Ge­orge Od­lum, who had been to po­lit­i­cal hell and back, had in the year 2000 put him­self at ob­vi­ous risk by warn­ing his prime min­is­ter that his ad­min­is­tra­tion was in grave dan­ger of achiev­ing in three short years what the United Work­ers Party had taken 30 years to ac­com­plish: alien­ation of the church, alien­ation of the pri­vate sec­tor, alien­ation of the press.

Od­lum did not go so far as to say An­thony’s pri­vate club gov­ern­ment, as it had be­come, would not for long be tol­er­ated by his elec­tors. But the in­fer­ence was clear, whether or not Kenny An­thony per­mit­ted him­self se­ri­ously to consider it. Of course, he was not with­out sup­port­ers of his delu­sions, chief among them the pre­vi­ously mentioned Mr Si­mon who added his con­ve­nient voice to that of Vaughan Lewis, who had him­self ear­lier de­scribed Od­lum as the scor­pion whose na­ture in­sisted on his sting­ing friends and en­e­mies alike.

As for the lo­cal jour­nal­ists who tried to tell it like it is, Ti­mothy Poleon and Juk Bois among them, Si­mon dis­missed them as hy­per ven­ti­la­tors. (Now here’s a word that ob­vi­ously heats up Si­mon. In the cited Voice piece, he em­ploys it no less than six times in ref­er­ence to Ken­ny­crit­ics!)

“For the Rick Waynes,” he writes, “Kenny An­thony was never real. If all of Rick’s ac­counts are to be be­lieved, Kenny An­thony was a me­dia cre­ation. He was just the hand­some, hon­est-look­ing ic­ing on the cake that Rick baked and the peo­ple bought.”

Then there were the long-time sup­port­ers, with good rea­son be­gin­ning to com­plain about Kenny An­thony. Si­mon re­ferred to them as “old Labour,” whom he said were tak­ing credit for their party’s 1997 elec­tion vic­tory.

“None of them be­lieve [sic] it was Kenny An­thony’s per­sonal ca­pac­ity to re­vive hope, re­sus­ci­tate the Labour Party to be­lieve again in it­self, and his prom­ise of a new and dif­fer­ent pol­i­tics” that clinched the 16-1 mir­a­cle.

Si­mon is en­ti­tled to his own con­clu­sions, in­clud­ing that fol­low­ing his prophetic warn­ing dur­ing the re­called 2000 Bud­get de­bate Ge­orge Od­lum had “with his char­ac­ter­is­tic op­por­tunism ap­pro­pri­ated the moral high ground, pon­tif­i­cat­ing to his col­leagues on all that they have done wrong, with no el­e­ment of self-crit­i­cism and not an iota of shared re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

To his credit, Si­mon of­fered his own per­sonal as­sess­ment of the prime min­is­ter: “I am no party hack but I am a be­liever in Kenny An­thony be­cause I saw in him a young, hon­est and earnest prime min­is­ter com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing some­thing new and dif­fer­ent.”

Tellingly, Si­mon goes on: “I sup­ported him be­cause the Kenny An­thony I know is a man with a proven record of ex­cel­lence and com­mit­ment. His aca­demic per­for­mance at­tests to that; his stint at Cave Hill and at Caricom spoke no less.”

He of­fered this ad­vice— and let’s not for­get Si­mon was writ­ing a year or so be­fore the 2001 gen­eral elections: “It is time for the prime min­is­ter to re­quire that all min­is­ters be­have ac­cord­ing to the same rules. It is time for Kenny An­thony to recom­mit to the trans­parency that Od­lum called for, but let it be for all, and hold all ac­count­able, in­clud­ing those who seek to pon­tif­i­cate.”

“In the sea­son of hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing [here we go again!], ev­ery at­tempt is be­ing made to con­sis­tently, even un­rea­son­ably, crit­i­cize the gov­ern­ment. Rick Wayne’s hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing [see what I mean?] is clas­si­cal: much self-opin­ion­ated sound and fury, lit­tle fact.”

“The prime min­is­ter must not be drawn into these fu­tile de­bates. Let him focus in­stead on the task of gov­ern­ing and de­liv­er­ing and let the work of his gov­ern­ment speak for it­self. That way, the de­sign­ers of dis­so­nance will be taught their most in­struc­tive les­son: that it is the peo­ple, not the one-man me­dia . . . that maketh the gov­ern­ment.”

I can­not re­call read­ing what Si­mon had to say about Rochamel, NCA, He­lenAir, He­len­ites and other scan­dals, not for­get­ting Kenny An­thony’s ir­re­versible at­ti­tude to­ward the Wal­ter Fran­cois, Matthew Roberts and Henry Charles fi­as­cos. Nei­ther do I re­mem­ber any­thing he had writ­ten about the prime min­is­ter’s pen­chant for bawl­ing out crit­ics of his poli­cies with a dismissive “take me to court!”

Nor about the omi­nous Sec­tion 361 that threat­ened to put an end to all dreams of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity in gov­ern­ment. Suf­fice it to say that if Pauli­nus Si­mon couldn’t him­self find the time to com­ment on the cited im­por­tant na­tional is­sues, other writ­ers did, in the best in­ter­ests of good gov­er­nance as promised but never truly de­liv­ered by the Kenny An­thony ad­min­is­tra­tion. I need only re­peat that the lo­cal me­dia have never claimed the power to make or break gov­ern­ments. No jour­nal­ist— in­clud­ing your not so hum­ble scribe— has ever claimed credit for re­mov­ing any ad­min­is­tra­tion, for good rea­son: only the peo­ple have the power to change gov­ern­ments. How­ever, we may rightly take pride in the fact that in the last elections no can­di­date was a stranger, not for too long any­way, to the elec­torate, thanks to me­dia cov­er­age. At which point comes to mind a re­lated ob­ser­va­tion by Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt: “The only sure bul­wark of con­tin­u­ing lib­erty is a gov­ern­ment strong enough to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of the peo­ple, and a peo­ple strong enough and well enough in­formed to main­tain its sov­er­eign con­trol over the gov­ern­ment!”

The pre­ced­ing was first pub­lished on 13 Jan­uary 2007

Former prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony: Never be­fore had so much good­will been squan­dered by an elected of­fi­cial. Fi­nally even he had pub­licly ac­knowl­edged the wide­spread an­i­mos­ity that had re­placed the wall-to-wall love show­ered upon him by hope­ful Saint Lu­cians in 1997!

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