George Davis | Is Ruel finished?
And so Ruel Reid goes, shunted off stage by the prime minister, like a man reading from a homophobic manuscript at an LGBTQI spoken word concert. The reaction of the audience? A stunned silence.
Like the stunned silence with which many Jamaicans greeted the news that a messy situation at the Caribbean Maritime University, involving a quasi-consultant, a domestic helper, a bank account, a spouse and fraud sleuths from the Financial Investigations Division and the police, all seem to suggest that the likeable former education minister was making cookies and placing them in his personal jar, outside of bakery hours.
Every man is innocent until proven guilty. And regardless of how some may feel about Ruel post the allegations, he must benefit from this principle. At the same time, many will have been girded in their conviction that he’s guilty by virtue of how swiftly Andrew Holness, one of his biggest supporters, has moved to effectively fling his crockery out of the Cabinet.
Sometimes people are too nice to dislike. Too good to be bad. And Ruel Reid is one man whom I would love to be exonerated of these awful allegations, provided, of course, he’s innocent. Knowing the esteem in which his closest colleagues hold him, and having seen evidence of the work he has done to help some of his parliamentary colleagues win seats in the House of Representatives, I am still in shock that his name could be attached to the things that have led him to be removed from the legislature.
So Ruel’s fate has caused me to again focus on one of the age-old problems confronting men and women in leadership and those simply living what the rest of us call an everyday life. That question is this: how do you select friends, colleagues and confidantes who will never do anything to bring disgrace upon themselves and, by extension, you?
That question is worthy of contemplation, given the way the prime minster is being hammered in some quarters for the pickle Ruel found himself in.
The issue is not that Ruel is guilty. Rather, the issue is that Ruel has conducted himself in a manner to cause his name to be linked to the kind of graft that causes some to question the judgement of the prime minister in appointing him to the Cabinet.
NEVER A GOOD TIME
Not only has Ruel’s professional standing been damaged by the circumstances which led to his shunting from the Cabinet, those actions have served to drain the Holness administration of some political capital at a point when they need that capital to spend in support of ‘Action Ann’ in the battle with the ‘Intellectual Dreadlocks’ in East Portland.
The swiftness with which Holness moved to de-Cabinet Ruel, like a young woman removing an unsightly blackhead ahead of an important second date with Mr-appears-to-be-right, has definitely cauterised the fallout for the JLP. Indeed, it has also taken the sting out of the PNP’s attack, neutralising their ability to drip-drip the allegations, while trying to trap government officials into saying things about the matter that can then be contradicted. The truth is, there is never a good time for a political scandal, but this one couldn’t have come at a worse time for the JLP.
So now we must ask ourselves, is Ruel finished?
Of course, if he is guilty, then the answer is irrelevant. But what if the probes under way prove that he was the victim of a monumental stitch-up, hatched by a coterie of persons determined to exact revenge for some slight suffered in the past? Can he recover? The answer appears to be no.
I wish not to be seen to make light of the heinous crime of rape. But a man accused of rape, who is then cleared by an investigation, will never again regain the esteem of those who had held him in the highest regard prior to his legal woes.
So it appears that Ruel, even if ‘him buss di case’, will perhaps never enjoy the confidence of those who previously respected him.
Sad it is that Ruel Reid’s political and professional career as an esteemed educator will not be marked by an imposing sepulchre, but has effectively been tossed into a small hole in the ground.