Wed | Oct 28, 2020

Mark Wignall | Trump’s dangerous diagnosis

Published:Sunday | October 4, 2020 | 12:12 AM

In this September 29, 2020, file photo, US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hold hands on stage after the first Presidential Debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. President Trump and First Lady Melan
In this September 29, 2020, file photo, US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hold hands on stage after the first Presidential Debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, the president tweeted early Friday.

Mark Golding with Joan Gordon-Webley (third right) and Angela Brown Burke (right) shortly after the end of the People’s National Party National Executive Council at the Jamaica Conference Centre on September 27.
Mark Golding with Joan Gordon-Webley (third right) and Angela Brown Burke (right) shortly after the end of the People’s National Party National Executive Council at the Jamaica Conference Centre on September 27.
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Many were willing to believe that with the chaotic presidency of Donald Trump since 2017, and with all the egregious steps of his historically altering leadership (or the very lack of it), nothing bad would stick to him.

Maybe even the president actually believed that he could expose himself to COVID-19 and not contract it. But it has happened, and the occurrence has presented the United States of America, the region, and the global community with major challenges.

As much as our humanity urges us to wish the president and his wife all the best, we must face the fact that he botched the US’s response to the outbreak in February. The fact is that at every step of this most tumultuous presidency, Trump has never fully connected the obvious dots between his role and that of the 330 million making up the USA.

Not at any stage of his presidency has Trump fully appreciated that his constituency goes far outside of those who form his core constituents. It has been all about those who he believes worship him and who can provide his lonely soul with unquestionable and unconditional love.

The permutations from here on are many, and even more scarily, in every scenario, they do not point to a good place.

MARK GOLDING STEPS ON THE GAS EARLY

Last Wednesday, I listened keenly to an interview on Nationwide’s most compelling Front Page. Amid a range of questions from Danielle Archer and Wayne Walker, as an obvious front runner for the presidency of the People’s National Party (PNP), Golding’s précis of the state of the PNP and what needs to be done to get its machinery up and running drove me to the early conclusion that he is the right man for the job.

Were I asked to judge his presentation on the authenticity of his prescription and the believability of his message, I would give it 9.75 out of 10.

He struck all the right tones as he figuratively reached out to PNP supporters, delegates, and political watchers, along with the broader general population. His approach was without the merest hint of rancour, and it presented new possibilities for the party and steps to heal the division and regenerate its commitment as the political entity best suited to the delivery of social justice in this country.

Great, I thought. With that, I had to bear in mind that a Don Anderson poll, commissioned by PNP-related persons, was showing Lisa Hanna as front runner. Curiously, the poll had also picked up a small subset of those who identified as PNP delegates, a most unusual situation. The normal practice is for these delegates to the contacted so their names, addresses, and phone numbers would be provided.

Golding was still in lukewarm territory. So in going for an early interview following on a horribly cantankerous PNP NEC meeting a few days before, Golding demonstrated the first needed arrow in his quiver: strategy.

Were I part of the Lisa Hanna team, I would immediately reach out to Nationwide and beg for a space and time equal to what was afforded Mark Golding. Thursday came. No Lisa.

The PNP needs to completely remodel itself. But let us get pragmatic here. As the late Eddie Seaga reminded us years ago, it takes cash to care. And it takes cash to put back the bits and pieces of the PNP while rebuilding its new model. Cash for providing the new outreach programmes to its core supporters and party workers.

In all of this, and what will take place leading up to the nomination day for the internal race and the contest itself, I am forced to question myself on a few matters. How can I see Mark Golding as the answer to the PNP’s problems when Golding probably has more in common with Peter Phillips, a man whose leadership was soundly rejected in the last elections? That, I will try to answer in my next column.

More than a decade ago, I was at a bar in a very rough part of Spanish Town. It was in the days before broad cell-phone use in Jamaica. The radio told us that a well-known and long-wanted, dangerous gunman had been shot dead.

A few policemen were in the bar with me, and when they heard the news, they were overjoyed. A few left immediately, and I was told that they were heading for where the body was so that they could have the joy of pumping a few bullets into the dead body.

After I saw the video clip of the nine night for a slain cop, which my sources tell me was at Parks Road in west rural St Andrew, the barrage of gunshots reminded me of a time when I was in Tivoli Gardens in 2001.

Policemen must account for the use of their government-owned guns, and, especially, the ammunition used. Or maybe that is just ‘something written in the books’.

Private citizens with licensed firearms must definitely account for ammunition used, especially the quantity used during practice. That is even if they do go to a firing range at all.

Nine nights are a cultural fixture in Jamaica. It is the ninth night of the death, and it is a celebration of the person where friends and family party with food and an oversupply of rum. While I can appreciate the general solemnity in the wake of the terrible death of this young policeman, the mixture of grief, alcohol, an excess of adrenalin, and gunfire could have turned out to be quite deadly.

The mood in the police force is not the best at this time. Significant numbers of cops want to take a harder line on violent criminality, and one suspects that although the commissioner knows this, he will push back in the public space.

In the months ahead, that will make for a toxic cocktail.

Mark Wignall is a political and public-affairs analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and mawigsr@gmail.com