Oh, physician shall thou heal thyself . . . ?
I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.
– Charles Chaplin
Had the English comic actor, film-maker and composer, who rose to fame in the silent pictures era, been alive today, he might have been tempted to throw this notion squarely over the shoulders of Dr David Estwick.
Not that it may not be said the Minister of Agriculture himself has been fooling around – particularly with the emotions and expectations of the electorate of Barbados – but that Mr Chaplin’s worldwide 19th and 20th century screen persona The Tramp, for all the pathos he personified, did a far superior job to Dr Estwick’s bombast, in inspiring people in their struggles against adversity, vis-a-vis joblessness.
Mr Chaplin for all 75 years of his career, we are told, wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his film projects. He was a perfectionist, seeing things through to the end, and remaining unfamiliar with the states of volte-face and recantation – attributes that Dr Estwick can hardly boast about.
When we were eagerly looking forward to the climactic episode of his self-made drama, whose trailer was emblazoned in passionate fury at his receipt of the first of three reconstructed molasses tanks last week, we would see it instead besprinkled by his being a no-show at his own summoned Democratic Labour Party St Philip West executive meeting on Saturday afternoon, and by the next day fashioned into a quite poor version of Laff It Off on the home stage of Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss.
This closing scene of the arranged PR big shots guffaw – by no means the last laugh – has brought little merriment to most. Ordinary folks wondered what it was that Dr Estwick, Mr Inniss, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean found so funny about hundreds of devastated workers being sent home, and with no knowledge of how they will survive.
How could these politicians be so jubilant over libations, published for all to see, while families have been thrown into disarray because of Government’s flawed administrative policies? others have marvelled.
Even others expressed what they had always felt: that Dr Estwick really had nothing to say, and that for all his rant that he needed to speak out for love of country, seemed quite happy at Donville Inniss’ edifice, as jobs in the Public Service come tumbling down.
The unflattering picture – by image and comment – reminds us of the sentiments of the American humorist and social commentator Will Rogers:
Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.
After all the ado of our goodly Dr Estwick that he needed to outline to Barbadians his own perspective, as a minister and as a citizen of this country, on why the Barbados economy is having its macroeconomic challenges; “whether or not our present path is the right one or the wrong one; and what is the path I think should be pursued”, he no longer has any issues with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, and has confessed that he actually believes that the economic path the Government is on is the “right way to go”.
All this after the huffing and puffing that he could “no longer sit silent when this debate is raging on, and when the outcome of any action may seriously undermine the stability of this country . . .”.
We are moved to ask: what became of Dr Estwick’s declaration that he was “a man before I got into politics and I [will] stay one if I am out of it”. And what ever happened to the oath: “I am going to do what I have to do honestly and diligently in the interest of Barbados, and in the interest of my children, and grandchildren
to come . . .”?
Well, no sooner had this Editorial’s proverbial ink dried, Mr Estwick was in another U-turn. It’s the wrong strategy, he blared to the Barbados TODAY: what the Ministry of Finance and the Barbados Central Bank pursuing. Government, he says, is targeting the wrong areas to deal with its deficit, and suggests that cutting wages and salaries is not the answer. And he hopes to convince his Cabinet colleagues on Thursday by “power point”
If he does get the chance to deliver to the Cabinet this week, will they be convinced “this is not the time to be pig-headed or . . . [to] close off options”? Will they really accept that Dr Estwick does have the cure? Not even with a pinch of salt!
It was the former Soviet president Nikita Khrushchev who reminded us:
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers.