b y Simon
There is the story of a twenty-something-year-old who was beaming about the Master’s Degree he had just received. At the celebration lunch after the graduation his mother advised:
“You see your grandmother over there. She’s almost 80 and doesn’t have a high school diploma. But she has life experience and judgment. She’s already stubbed her toe in all the places you might buck yours. When you need advice in making tough decisions your book-learning might help. But it’s never enough. Don’t forget to ask your Grammy for advice.”
What people essentially want of their political, business or religious leaders is good or superior judgment. Some people simply have better instincts. Still, experience counts for quite a bit, though even supposedly experienced leaders make stunningly poor errors of judgment.
Such was the recent case of Anglican Bishop Drexel Gomez who made what many view as a colossal error of judgment by speaking at a PLP rally in North Andros to introduce his brother, the party’s candidate for that constituency.
That the former Archbishop and Primate of the Province of the West Indies did so in clerical collar seemed to compound his error. So too his bellicose remarks in response to a comment made by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham to Leader of the Opposition Perry Christie about the Bishop’s appearance at a partisan event.
In political terms, last week, DNA Leader Branville McCartney more than stubbed his toe. He bucked up badly. It may prove to be one of his worst mistakes of this campaign.
The lead story in the March 22 Tribune reported: “Branville McCartney's declaration that he does not believe women should be legally protected from being raped by their husbands will come back to haunt the DNA leader at the polls, Social Development Minister Loretta Butler-Turner said yesterday.
“Mrs Butler-Turner was responding to Mr McCartney's comments on the TV programme Citizen's Review if the Marital Rape Bill would be passed by a DNA government, Mr McCartney said: ‘No, sir. When you get married to a person, you are one’.”
The Tribune story continued:
“The host suggested to him that in the Bahamas, there are high levels of domestic violence, a leading cause of murder. But Mr McCartney said there are already laws to protect wives from violence, but rape in a marriage is too hard to prove:
“ ‘When at the end of the day, you are sleeping in the same bed as your wife or spouse, you become one in that regard, and rape is very difficult to prove, especially as sexual intercourse is a part of marriage.’
“Mr Ferguson pointed out that an act should not necessarily be accepted, just because it is hard to prove, but Mr McCartney said: ‘I don't think it should be illegal. I maintain that. I don't think there should be an Act or law for raping a spouse…’ ”
The Tribune reported:
“Mr McCartney's position has also stunned staff at the Crisis Centre for Women and women's rights advocate Dr Sandra Dean-Patterson. Donna Nicolls, volunteer counsellor at the Crisis Centre, said the DNA leader's ‘uninformed statement’ was unfortunate and speaks to his lack of understanding on the issue.
“‘For somebody who wants to become leader with approximately 50 per cent of women constituting the population, it is very troubling to me.’
“Dr Patterson added she was amazed that the DNA leader would take a position that does not support women in a marriage having the same rights as persons who are victims of assault. Both women agree that Mr McCartney should do more research on the matter before he voices his opinion on the national stage.”
In one of its typically rambling and poorly crafted press releases, the DNA recently noted: “The DNA has been in existence for 10 months and has made tumultuous strides…” What strides it has made will soon be clear. But it certainly has been a tumultuous time for the party.
A standard definition of tumultuous is “Making a loud, confused noise; excited, confused, or disorderly”. Mr. McCartney’s initial remark on marital rape is a nightmare for the DNA with scores of women voters. The clobbering he and his party are taking for his comments can be tracked on various social media sites.
The DNA’s attempt to walk back McCartney’s stupendously stupid comments with a hastily written and jumbled statement reveals how unprepared the party and its leader are in terms of the policy and politics of complex issues.
We have seen this before with Mr. McCartney. It is a pattern of exceedingly poor judgment: bluster followed by backtracking which makes him look even more acutely amateurish and inexperienced.
Mr. McCartney reinforced his image as a reactionary. His pandering of the moment will look shallow and regressive in the hindsight of history and the advancement of women’s rights.
Scores of Bahamians of Haitian descent will never vote for the DNA because they view Mr. McCartney as prejudiced towards them. Now, scores of women voters see Mr. McCartney’s views on marital rape as sexist.
It takes considerable inexperience to alienate Haitian Bahamians and women in 10 tumultuous months, as Mr. McCartney has so adroitly done.
The DNA’s candidate selection process was so rash that a number of selected candidates dropped out. At this count, the DNA is onto its fourth candidate for MICAL. When asked whether he knew that the DNA’s MICAL candidate before last was facing legal questions before the party selected him, Mr. McCartney answered affirmatively.
Mr. McCartney was heavily criticized for his poor judgment on that selection including in a strong editorial by The Nassau Guardian. When pressed on his initial answer, which was recorded on tape, Mr. McCartney claimed to have misunderstood what appeared to be a rather straightforward question. His on-camera “clarification” was a fingernails-on-chalkboard moment.
It isn’t singularly McCartney’s critics who see him as green. A number of those who flirted with going green now believe that his judgment is shockingly flawed.
The DNA leader may wish to read the Greek myth of Icarus and his father Daedalus, who warned his son not to fly so close to the sun that his wings would be destroyed -- which is exactly what happened with Icarus who fell into the ocean and drowned. So seized by giddiness, hubris and overweening ambition, the boy simply wouldn’t listen. He was not as clever as he assumed.
Branville McCartney had a Daedalus in his life, a political father, Hubert Ingraham who tried to “learn” him. But McCartney, like Icarus, thought he could defy the laws of political gravity and commonsense. After Icarus fell, it is Daedalus who survived. After all, he knew where the boy would buck his toe -- or burn his wings.
Right before he fell, “Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms.”