Portia Simpson-Miller Mania?

My darling Portia:

Pootus — they have discovered our love dearest; and are now intent to pull us apart…

So must begin my love letter to the Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition; and apparently the “political love” of my life. At least according to Mark Wignall, in his recent

Wignall’s World Sunday column he says:

My Darling Dearest, Apparently

There are a few online readers of my column who only become animated whenever I criticise the Leader of the Opposition, Portia Simpson Miller. The skies could be falling and the earth could be boiling and one would never hear a peep from them, but criticise Simpson Miller and they bristle, ready to take up arms in defence of the political love of their lives.

Source: Mark Wignall, Sunday Observer, Sun. Oct 12, 2008

Now first of all, could Mark be referring to your beloved blogger here as someone who you “never hear a peep from” except when criticism of Portia Simpson-Miller is involved? That is a readily testable claim which is simply not true. In fact to your right is a Recent Posts listing — how many of them are mainly written to challenge criticisms of Portia? How often did I challenge criticisms of Portia prior to the launch of Peter Phillips’ ill-fated challenge for the PNP party presidency? if you look closely you’ll see that my challenges have been to the claims of impartiality by Jamaican media when clearly they’re biased against the Opposition Leader. My joy has been in the realization that classist and mysognistic antagonism of the Opposition Leader by Jamaican media is transparent to the masses — as is evidenced by the polls reflecting the Opposition Leader’s popularity.

What I have said here, and will continue to say is simple: “this pretense that Portia is comparatively worse than all the people who came before her is absurd.”

If that assertion makes me the president of the Portia Simpson-Miller Fan Club, then so be it. I am not willing to hold her to a disparate standard; one different than the standard for all the men who preceded her, and one harsher than the standard used to judge the man who succeeded her.

So I am on record as stating “Something is happening to Mark Wignall when he writes about Portia Simpson-Miller;” but since that observation I have come to realize that this “something” has symptoms that are exhibited by more people than I previously believed. Many other commentators in Jamaica are suffering from this pernicious disorder — and as a service to the beloved land of my birth I will put my unimpeachable credentials in psychiatry (earned from Wikipedia College over the last 20 minutes) to good use.

I posit that these commentators are suffering from a new malady, which I am first in diagnosing, called ‘Portia Simpson-Miller Mania’ or PSMM (not to be confused with PMS though some symptoms are similar.)

A mania is defined as:

Mania (from Greek μανία[1] and that from μαίνομαι – mainomai, “to rage, to be furious”) is a severe medical condition characterized by extremely elevated mood, energy, unusual thought patterns and sometimes psychosis.

Source: Wikipedia

Portia Simpson-Miller Mania (often abbreviated as “PSMM”) is a collection of physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms in reaction to the phenomenal popularity and political success of the Jamaican politician Portia Simpson-Miller.

Please consult a physician and a psychiatrist if you suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Do you suffer from shortness of breath when you see pictures of Portia smiling widely or hugging someone sincerely?
  • Does your heart palpitate and your pulse race when you hear radio interviews wherein Portia …(shock of shocks)… criticizes a political opponent?
  • Do you suffer from hypertension when watching footage of Portia’s ministrations in the front row of Gordon House’s Opposition benches?
  • Do you experience anxiety when you read new polls reflecting Portia’s electoral popularity in comparison to Bruce Golding?
  • Experiencing unusual thought patterns — like suddenly demanding effective action from Jamaican politicians?
  • Have you began to expect sustained competence and concrete results from government in only the last few years?
  • Do you become easily imbued with unfounded exuberance about the prospects of Portia’s political challengers?
  • Are you a commentator who cannot complete a column or broadcast segment without exhibiting extreme mood swings like demonstrating animosity for Portia even where unrelated or inappropriate?
  • Are you periodically experiencing bloating from your own hypocrisy and double standards?

If you exhibit 3 or more of these PSMM symptoms, please see a doctor as soon as possible to seek treatment with the use of an innovative medicine called “objective facts”. While PSMM is curable, it appears to be highly contagious and seems to originate and transmit (perhaps airborne) among attendees of cocktail parties in geographic regions of high elevation near Kingston. Apparently the resilience of the PSMM-carrying germ/virus/bacteria is reduced at lower elevations. Further a substantial portion of the population derives a natural immunity from PSMM due to an unrelated condition known as poverty. Tell your friends so they can know what symptoms to look for and protect themselves.

Now, let us look at more of Mark Wignall’s column to examine the effects PSMM can have on Jamaican commentators. I have already pointed out in other posts the idiocy that causes commentators in Jamaica to say on the one hand that Peter Phillips was a prominent and indispensable PNP strategist/functionary for many years; and then on the other hand entirely absolve Phillips (this indispensable strategist) from ANY responsibility for the party’s general and local election losses in 2007? If you suffer from PSMM, this absolution will make perfect sense to you.

Now, Wignall has told us repeatedly that Portia is single-handedly responsible for the state of her party and for much of the decrepitude of the country’s political system. Yet on Sunday last he stated:

Let us understand one thing here. If John Brown or Judy Smith from the ‘corners’ became prime minister tomorrow, our policemen, nurses, teachers, doctors, garbage-men and the host of others in the civil service would still get paid. The ‘system’ is set up to ensure that that is so. One assumes that if John Brown, who mostly wants to hang with the boys and smoke a ‘spliff’, has good people in his cabinet, he can pretty much find the time to have the boys hang with him, maybe at the back of Jamaica House. Break out the chillum, boys!

Source: Mark Wignall, Sunday Observer, Sun. Oct 12, 2008

What Mark Wignall is saying here is that the apparatus of the Jamaican government does not derive its daily instructions and functionality from micro-management by the Prime Minister. Wignall says it differently:

It’s a simplistic way of saying that much of what we have become used to as ‘government’ can be effected even if Jack is stoned on high-grade ganja or if Judy wants to attend endless divinations from her favourite guru. Leadership demands much more.

Source: Mark Wignall, Sunday Observer, Sun. Oct 12, 2008

Wignall then goes on to say that leadership requires that the Prime Minister should articulate and work to effect a holistic and shared vision — which I agree with. But my question is which PM’s have we had that did this? Bustamante, Norman Manley, Michael Manley and WHO ELSE? We haven’t had a PM who had a powerful and inspiring vision for Jamaica in about 28 years (I’m excluding Manley’s re-election in the 90’s on purpose.) Yet Portia alone is to be held to the standard of providing inspiring leadership? Wignall is still chastising her for that perceived failure a year after she has left office? When will we see Wignall address Golding with the degree of stridency and derision that he focuses on Portia?

Further, by stating that any John Brown can be PM, Wignall absolves PJ, Portia and Bruce from failure — by instead making the failure of the Jamaican government a structural breakdown. I DO believe the GOJ’s failure is a result of a structural breakdown! That is undeniable — but that breakdown doesn’t absolve our leaders in my view. When Wignall uses payroll as his example of things that get done regardless of the PM; that to me is a bad example, performance is a better example. The better question to ask is: do nurses nurse, the police do policing, and do teachers teach; regardless of who is Prime Minister? I submit to you that the competence of our civil service is directly related to the competence and personality of the PM. (See George W. Bush as Exhibit A.)

Wignall doesn’t believe that though, he goes to use trade deals as another example of a routine government action that happens despite the competence and personality of the Prime Minister. Which begs the question: If Wignall now believes that a weed-addict or a cult-devotee can be Prime Minister without calamity — then why has Wignall spent so much time trying to convince us that Portia’s election was an unparalleled calamity? This deficit of logical coherence is symptomatic of PSMM, that’s my diagnosis.

Wignall does ask another question: What did she do for women?

Well Mark, she has done for women what Obama has done for me so far — and he didn’t win the presidency just yet. Obama has made the paradigm shift to my benefit. Obama has forced the stereotypes that people use to make decisions to change. Boys and girls in Jamaica don’t need to be told that boys do the leading and girls don’t; they look around and just “know” that girls don’t lead things. In a male-dominated, patriarchal, culture like Jamaica; that message is transmitted and received by social convention. When the Prime Minister is a woman the transmitted message necessarily changes — and the woman aspiring to be CEO is taken a little more seriously since we now “know” that some women can lead. When black people are all shoe-shiners; it doesn’t matter what equal opportunity laws are on the books — American kids and immigrants slowly come to understand who the presidents are and how they look; and none of them look like me. If Obama wins – paradigm shift! – and a 1000 imperceptible and many perceptible changes occur in the way I (and other black men) am viewed. Stereotype shattered — and people stop assuming I’m a shelf-stock-boy if I’m in a store! (Truthfully though that stopped happening to many NYC black men in the 90’s.) This is a benefit for women of a Portia PM-tenure, before Portia’s gender policies are taken into consideration –  if she had any.

And that’s that. Again, I state that Portia Simpson-Miller was not worse than all the other leaders we’ve had. She is as bad and as good as any of the recent ones. Wignall, and company, are not well — I recommend they take the objective facts theraphy for their Portia Simpson-Miller Mania.

Commentator! Heal thyself!

While you do that, I have to go write a love song like the one Oliver Samuels wrote in the clip below.

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