Saturday 16 February 2019

Bitterness is not a good look

Above: Seems the critics were right after all

I have been watching the PM doing the rounds of all the TV shows and with every appearance he seems to be coming across even more irritated, bitter and angry.

On Bondiplus last night he practically bit Lou’s head off because he asked him a question – much to the TV host’s obvious surprise.  I, too, was taken aback, because this is not the smooth, unruffled Lawrence Gonzi we are used to, who usually chuckles his way through interviews.

It is clear that the man is mightily pissed off. At first I thought, OK, understandable, he is still furious and smarting from Franco’s defection. It’s safe to say that, until the last minute, many of us were still not that convinced that Debono would actually go through with his threat of bringing down the government. And despite the PM attempting to shrug it off (“we were at the end of our legislature anyway”) the reality is that, no matter which way you slice it, the Gonzi government collapsed.

However, after watching Gonzi again in a similar angry vein this morning on TVAM, I’m starting to think that his PR consultants have told him he needs to lose the inappropriate chuckle and be more assertive and aggressive. Either that or the polls are telling him that the almost daily gaffes by the PN have seen support slipping again.

Anger is not a good look for TV especially as Gonzi is visibly fatigued and not looking his best. In fact, he is beginning to remind me more and more of Alfred Sant during the 2008 campaign when faced by a hostile media and an electorate which was not convinced by what he was saying.

Lawrence Gonzi seems unable to understand why so many members of the “ungrateful” public which once adored him have now turned against him. No, it is not solely because the Nationalists have been there too long and it’s time for a change (as some have been arguing), because if people who voted them in still believe they are the best party to govern, there should not be a problem. But the polls asking “who do you trust?” are showing otherwise.

The crux of the matter is that, with the long term in office, the cockiness and sense of entitlement have set in, as they inevitably do.  In this small micro state, the cobweb of connections is so entangled that, ultimately, it always leads back to the same handful of people who have been on a pretty good ride.

Gonzi’s choice of phrase during one of his press conferences was particularly revealing, “I’m handing back the country to the people”.
Really now? I never realised Gonzi and his party owned Malta.

With the cockiness come the kind of gaffes uttered in public which might slip by unnoticed were it not for the speed of the social media which are unforgiving in their ability to spot blunders.

Simon Busuttil’s absurd “stick up for the government at the grocer” comment is a case in point.  It’s a suggestion which is wrong on so many levels and yet you still hear the Nationalist party defending it because it refuses to acknowledge that the connotations sent a ripple of unease through the country.

Apart from the rot which sets in after years of being too long in power, the other problem is that the Gonzi admininstration has lost its credibility after a string of bad decisions, reckless spending and mismanagement. Just to name one example, the costly roofless theatre was defended to the hilt by some and proclaimed to be a great idea. Those who criticized it for being unsuitable were mocked and derided that they did not know what they were talking about

Yesterday, as can be seen from the photo above, it was covered by a tent, proving that the critics were right after all – and yet no one has come out with a statement saying, “we were wrong”.

The tide of how public sentiment has turned can be felt in the way this administration is the butt of jokes at almost every turn. It is that indefinable something which takes hold of the national psyche and is hard to reverse once it starts.  Plenty of jokes are doing the rounds about Joseph Muscat as well, of course, the best one being that of him as a pizza boy, which played on the silly slogan “Labour delivers”.

However, to me it seems that it’s the satire aimed at the PN which has captured the public imagination

Maybe that’s why Gonzi is so angry.


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