Yes, he’s bombastic, self-absorbed and convinced that he has all the answers. His communication style is more reminiscent of old school politicians with foghorns for voices than the soft-voiced but rather bland types we often see on TV.
But far from being irrelevant and confined to the history books, I believe Franco Debono is the type of politician who will never really go away.
Let’s face it, if he were really that much of a non-entity why does he still continue to garner so much media attention to the extent that more people were clamouring to see him rather than the Simon/Anglu debate?
The explosion of comments last night online during his “interview” with TVhemm’s self-styled “journalist” Norman Vella is proof that, love him or hate him, Franco is watchable.
That programme also proved in one fell swoop just what is wrong with our national broadcaster, for those who have eyes to see. An interviewer arguing heatedly with his guest, and trying to provoke him into losing it by pushing his buttons – nice work.
Obviously, the PN would love for FD to pack his bags and ship off somewhere remote where there’s no Wifi reception, never to return, but even this insistence on silencing him is interesting. What happened to being the standard bearers for freedom of speech?
In my experience, politicians usually want to silence those who are a pain in the neck and who are causing ripples in the pool of public opinion because they refuse to toe the line and play the game. They are the ones who are voicing the feelings of Joe Public. On the other hand, if someone is happy with the status quo and simply mouths what “my leader” says whether in print or on some TV show, you can be sure that he is safe and secure. No one will want to silence him, because basically he doesn’t count. No one cares what he thinks because he has no credibility. These are the true non- entities.
Paradoxically, it is the PN itself which is proving just how relevant Franco actually is and how much he has damaged its carefully contrived image, through this insistence on shutting him up. The party has tried a number of tactics, all of which have failed. They’ve tried ignoring him, they’ve tried being nice, they’ve tried nastiness, they’ve tried offering him juicy appointments, they’ve tried ridicule, and they’ve tried outright contempt. Alas, he just won’t go away and he just won’t shut up.
What is even more revealing is the string of emissaries who have been dispatched to reason with him and “bring him round.” Lawrence Gonzi, Gejtu Vella, Simon Busuttil and now we’ve learned that even Peppi Azzopardi (what a busy little bunny) has taken time off from being a producer/presenter and occasional PRO for politicians to try his hand at bringing about a rapprochement. Let us say none of them should try their hand at solving the Middle East crisis.
Franco adamantly refuses to kiss and make up.
Some argue that he has galvanized the split factions within the Nationalist support base; he is now the enemy who brought down the government and deprived people of their budget goodies. But judging from the support I see on his blog and other fora, the man has a growing swell of grassroots support which crosses political lines. Even those who do not like his abrasive style and point to his need for personal glory, grudgingly admit that the content of his diatribes is usually spot on.
His bulldozer, super hyper personality has led many people to brand him as mentally imbalanced, which is not only cruel, but simply untrue. He simply demands to be heard. But haven’t we heard enough of him already some people keep asking in exasperation?
Well, as we saw last night, apparently there are those who still want to hear what he wants to say. Norman Vella’s pathetic ploy to drown out Franco’s voice through repeated interruptions was futile, because Franco simply wore him down.
It is when FD no longer has an audience that he will truly become irrelevant – and that hasn’t happened yet.