The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

Over the holidays I joined two col­leagues for din­ner at Big Chef in Rod­ney Bay. It wasn’t long be­fore we were dis­cussing the par­tic­u­larly low points of yet an­other all-lows year about to evanesce. With few rea­son­able ex­pla­na­tions for the cur­rent state of once sim­ply beau­ti­ful Saint Lu­cia, one of my com­pan­ions did what most of us do when con­fronted by the con­se­quences of our per­sis­tent in­er­tia: he passed the buck. “What we need here is a leader like Don­ald Trump!” he said.

I was re­minded of an­other un­for­get­table en­counter at least a decade older with two lo­cally renowned busi­ness­men, one of them a re­spected en­gi­neer. De­ter­mined to con­vince him of the near lim­it­less power of com­bined ef­fort, I prof­fered the fol­low­ing sce­nario: “Imag­ine your life de­pended on lift­ing a heavy lump of iron from the ground to knee height. You try with one hand. It does not budge. What’s your next move?”

His light­ning-fast re­sponse short-cir­cuited my brain: “Make it lighter.“

“And how do you do that?” I asked.

“I don’t know!”

Since then I’ve come to ac­cept as a Saint Lu­cian idio­syn­crasy our abid­ing in­ter­est in other peo­ple’s motes, whether or not In­ter­net in­ven­tions. But back to my fel­low jour­nal­ists at the din­ner ta­ble.

“Why do we need a Don­ald Trump?”

“Well,” he said, “Trump doesn’t just talk the talk. He keeps his word, re­gard­less of what oth­ers may think.”

“Are you say­ing what we need in Saint Lu­cia is some kind of ba­nana repub­lic dic­ta­tor?” He wasn’t ready for this one. He blinked, but that didn’t mean he was about to change di­rec­tion. In Saint Lu­cia, con­sis­tency is ev­ery­thing; re­gard­less of how fool­ish. It’s we kolcha.

“Well, yes,” he replied,

“if you wish, go ahead and call him a dic­ta­tor. But he gets the job done. Peo­ple seem not to un­der­stand Trump made prom­ises to his base and ob­vi­ously he’s de­ter­mined to de­liver.”

I re­minded him that in re­cent times the pres­i­dent’s ap­proval rat­ing had plum­meted; he was the fo­cus of sev­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­volv­ing his busi­ness ad­ven­tures in var­i­ous parts of the world, in­clud­ing Russia, that may have im­pacted his run for the pres­i­dency.

“Hey, c’mon,” my friend chuck­led while dis­mis­sively wav­ing me off with his free left hand. “That’s main­stream me­dia stuff. I never watch CNN and I read nei­ther the New York Times nor the Wash­ing­ton Post. They can’t be trusted.

All they ever carry on Trump is fake news.” He named as his more re­li­able sources two or three on­line pub­li­ca­tions. I’d never heard of them be­fore, an ad­mis­sion that seemed to af­ford him plea­sure be­yond mea­sure. I went on: “What do you know about your fa­vorite on­line au­thors? Do you fact-check them? Do you even re­mem­ber their names? Their history as re­porters?”

On all counts his an­swers were neg­a­tive. I had just one more ques­tion: “How can you be sure what you read about Trump, what you see on his fa­vorite TV sta­tions, aren’t spe­cially fil­tered with folks like you in mind?” He admitted he couldn’t prove oth­er­wise. Then again, that’s what faith has al­ways been about: deep ir­re­versible be­lief with­out proof. It would’ve served no use­ful pur­pose to bring up that Trump had openly ad­vo­cated vi­o­lence against those not sup­port­ive of his elec­tion cam­paign. My friend had to have known that al­ready. Or that Trump had pub­licly demon­strated a cal­lous at­ti­tude to those dif­fer­ently able. Or that the Pres­i­dent of the United States thought noth­ing of grab­bing women by their doo­dahs.

I have ab­so­lutely no doubt that had I men­tioned porn phe­nom­e­non Stormy Daniels and for­mer Play­boy bunny Karen Mc­Dou­gal my din­ner com­pan­ion would’ve strug­gled to re­call in­ti­mate de­tails about Monica Lewin­sky. In Saint Lu­cia the only thing more com­mon­place than be­lief in boloms is whataboutery.

We re­turn to my friend’s ear­lier ex­pressed dream wish: a home-grown Don­ald Trump; a leader for whom good gov­er­nance was all about dat base (apolo­gies to Meghan Trainor). Through­out our ex­changes our other friend had been un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally silent as he con­cen­trated on his seafood plate and his wine. “I’m not the only one who thinks we need a leader like Trump,” said the de­clared Trumpos­tle at our ta­ble. “So does he!”

Not any­more, it ap­peared. I tried to draw him out sev­eral times but he seemed abruptly to have un­der­gone an at­ti­tu­di­nal sea change. We spent the rest of the evening, 30 min­utes or so, try­ing in vain to fig­ure out what might be the mo­tive be­hind Philip J. Pierre’s no-con­fi­dence mo­tion, re­port­edly sched­uled for par­lia­men­tary de­bate later this month.

What con­tin­ues to oc­cupy my mind weeks later is my col­league’s long-dis­tance love af­fair with a Don­ald Trump who may or may not ac­tu­ally ex­ist. How telling that he seemed to know in­ti­mate de­tails about the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent but barely remembered who was Al­lan Louisy or Ge­orge Od­lum. As for his dream wish, I dare to say we’ve never had a leader who did not demon­strate while in of­fice the con­temptible char­ac­ter­is­tics now syn­ony­mous with Don­ald Trump. Where Saint Lu­cia is con­cerned, Don­ald Trump is déjà vu.

Con­sider the 1994 story about a lo­cal prime min­is­ter’s ex­tra-mar­i­tal shenani­gans with a school­girl not yet six­teen. On count­less oc­ca­sions he had ap­plied to the Bri­tish, Cana­dian and Amer­i­can em­bassies for visas in the name of the young girl, whom he falsely claimed as a rel­a­tive—and on pa­per em­bossed with the na­tion’s

coat of arms. Could Trump have sur­vived such be­hav­ior? I doubt it. But his lo­cal coun­ter­part cer­tainly did!

I could name at least one prime min­ster of a sis­ter is­land who was more than once pub­licly ac­cused of sex­ual as­sault with­out suf­fer­ing a dent in his ap­proval rat­ing. You’re prob­a­bly think­ing, so what? Trump got away with that too. In which case I would ad­vise you to wait un­til the fat lady sings her ver­sion of Estelle Waters’ Stormy Weather.

Could Pres­i­dent Trump have got­ten away with Fren­well and Gryn­berg? Again, I have my doubts. But a lo­cal prime min­is­ter cer­tainly has. Re­mem­ber when can­di­date Trump told the world he was so pop­u­lar that if he were to shoot some­one on New York’s Fifth Av­enue he wouldn’t lose a vote? Idle hy­per­bole? Brag­gado­cio? Maybe, but more im­por­tantly, Trump stopped short of nam­ing his tar­get, un­like a cam­paign­ing lo­cal prime min­is­ter who in 2016 had iden­ti­fied a fa­ther and his son as marked men—again with im­punity!

Long be­fore Don­ald Trump pub­licly la­beled cer­tain coun­tries “shit­holes,” long be­Fore he ex­plained on TV the best way to treat a lady, prime min­is­ters through­out our re­gion were car­ry­ing on as if they were above the law do­ing with im­punity most of the things now syn­ony­mous with the cur­rent widely de­spised Pres­i­dent of the United States.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.