Frog say wha’ a joke to you….

I am firmly convinced that there will be no general election this year. If I would blog as quickly as ideas occur to me that might strike more people as a surprise. But even before Peter Phillips announced his challenge to Portia, the writing was already on the wall that there is no way the JLP could intend to call an election this year and be behaving the way in which JLP functionaries are behaving.

I was reading Barbara Gloudon’s column that appeared in the Jamaica Observer on Friday before last, and found it strange that parliamentarians are continuing to lampoon poor people. Not just any parliamentarians though, according to Gloudon JLP MP’s were among those making a boisterous mockery while their colleague carried on a show-and-tell regarding the steep rises in basic food prices.

The JLP-parliamentarians’ actions remind me of Haitian President René Préval, who prior to the food riots in Haiti, lampooned those critics of his government’s response to the explosive inflation in food prices.

Leaders who ignore the rage do so at their own risk. President René Préval of Haiti appeared to taunt the populace as the chorus of complaints about la vie chère — the expensive life — grew. He said if Haitians could afford cellphones, which many do carry, they should be able to feed their families. “If there is a protest against the rising prices,” he said, “come get me at the palace and I will demonstrate with you.”

Source: New York Times, April 18, 2008

Frog say what a joke to you a death to me, thus it was funny to see the response of President Preval when the protesters took him up on that offer as they tried to rip off the gates to the presidential palace. He cowered behind the Brazilians patrolling the country as U.N. peace-keepers.

While I would take no pleasure in seeing Duke Street filled with Molotov-cocktail-wielding mobs, apparently our politicians don’t care. Which indicates to me the enormous sense of hubris and arrogance that surrounds the JLP functionaries’ attitude to their power. Oddly, they are in the precarious position of being on the equivalent of employee probation right now,  new-jacks with no track record of success to obligate the patience of their employers. But their behavior is as if a dem birthright fi siddung pon di government side. Ironically it was this sense of arrogance and hubris which led to the PNP’s loss of power, in my opinion. Yet, in only nine months of tenuous power the JLP is perfectly duplicating a perspective it took the PNP an entire eighteen years – and an unprecedented four consecutive general election wins – to cultivate.

Further it is worthwhile remembering that this is not the first time the JLP members have made the plight of the poor a laughing-stock in Gordon House. During Portia Simpson-Miller’s presentation in the budget debate, the Opposition Leader was roundedly mocked when speaking about the plight of the poor. Look at the videos below; from 4:32 in the first video and almost all of the second video. Compare and contrast the rhetoric and posture of the JLP hecklers against Portia’s poise and demeanor. Remember this is Portia “Don’t draw my tongue” Simpson-Miller, so to achieve that contrast they had to be carrying on really bad.

At 7:13 in the first video, the Minister of Agriculture Chris Tufton, appears to be sleeping through the Opposition Leader’s call for action on food prices. The Minister of Agriculture. Really!?!

Didn’t the JLP win in part due to an ad called Cock mouth kill cock? Didn’t that ad show a sleeping Maxine Henry-Wilson from the PNP at 1:16 in the ad?

Again, it would seem to me that very few in politics in Jamaica truly understand the power of images, not even the beneficiaries of their power. The same way the JLP swept the PNP out of power on the back of this ad with all this footage from parliament is the same way the PNP can return to power by highlighting footage and imagery of the JLP acting-up and carrying-on like leggo-beasts in parliament. The JLP belly full, but many people in Jamaica are hungry.

Yet the JLP is not alone in failing to understand the power of images, take Peter Phillips and his announcement of his challenge to Portia Simposn-Miller for the presidency of the PNP. Was the only podium he could find to make his announcement that one in Harbour View, where the Opposition Leader was literally in the background looming larger than he is; she is ‘smiling’, ‘confident’, and dare I say ‘somewhat sexy’? Who would want to be literally overshadowed by their opponent at such a crucial moment? Peter Phillips.

I’ve seen high school candidates in the U.S. pay greater attention to the judicious use of imagery than so-called seasoned Jamaican politicians. Our politicians are rank amateurs at this, and sometimes I wonder where they’d be without political bribery and murder. All this betrays a lack of finesse, and this is before we examine Peter Phillips’ failure to inform Portia of his challenge prior to the announcement, which was tacky and classless. To be sure, Portia had to know that Peter Phillips was planning to run, just as everybody who is anybody in the party had to know he planned to run. All the more reason Phillips should have made a congenial call about 15 minutes prior to taking the stage to tell Portia directly how much his challenge would “strengthen and invigorate the party,” and “help focus the PNP on our core mission so we come out stronger;” boilerplate bullshit platitudes yes – and a neccessary protocol in political life. If he couldn’t be trusted to understand the diplomatic protocol required in dealing with Portia, why should he be in line to be Prime Minister, a position where diplomacy is more necessary?

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13 thoughts on “Frog say wha’ a joke to you….

  1. Indeed,many of these politicans are totally drunk, intoxicated and inebriated with and about political power.Hence,the imperious,contemptuous,disdainful,insolent,high and mighty attitude and psychology doled/meted out towards the Jamaican people especially the mass publics and the marginalized elements of the society.

  2. again, i can really relate to your observation about the obliviousness of jamaican politicians (who are representative of the rest) to the power of the visual. as something of an afficionado of visual culture it has always struck me how crude and unreflexive the manipulation of visual symbolism and graphic composition often is.

    an exception during the last election was the ad made by Sarah Manley on Peter Bunting. now there for a change was a sophisticated eye; the one featuring his rival Sally Porteous wasn’t half bad either. but i too deplore the kind of ad you featured in your blog targetting Portia, Maxine, the PNP and so on. unfortunately this was the kind of ad that predominated…on both sides. what a sad travesty. surely Jamaicans deserve better…

  3. Diatribalist,are you okay? Your readers have not heard from you in almost a week.Hopefully, everything is copasetic!!RESPECT star!

  4. Hi Annie and Esteban:
    Thank you so much for the concern. It is unlike me, but it’s such a gorgeous summer in NYC and the failure of the political leadership in Jamaica is so depressing. Finally the media in Jamaica is so highly mediocre, deliberately so at that. I have a couple posts on tap though — following something Annie had said I have been more closely looking at other print media in Jamaica like the Sunday Herald and Western Mirror. I will update the blog by morning.

  5. Diatribalist, I man understand. Enjoy your summer star. Anticipating and looking forward to your posts whenever you dispatch them. Nuff respect!!

  6. so glad to hear your voice Up So, because you know one of the oft repeated urban myths of kingston is about this famous trial where when the chief witness was called, a frog came hopping into the courtroon instead with a padlock on its mouth!

  7. Annie, I remember my grandmother talking about that urban legend of the frog entering the courthouse with a padlock on its mouth.But I just cannot remember the details.I actually LOL when you introduced it on this blog. I will communicate with some of the elders in my family for information regarding this legend.RESPECT!!

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