IN politics, there are many missed opportunities or missed chances. The critical point is to know when those opportunities and chances present themselves, how to read the same carefully and do scenario building with exit strategies clearly laid out and carefully determine the impact of deciding in favor of one scenario against several others.
Defining moments would be “moments in our lives that define who we are.” In politics, most consultants wait for such events or sometimes recall such moments in hindsight, when the candidate awfully missed the point. Winston Churchill once said, “to each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
And there are so many defining moments when politicians fail to understand what it means to rise above the morass or to take the high moral road or to know when to stop so what has been started would not debase an institution proud of its tradition or turn every accusation into a circus and so much more.
“Defining moments in politics are strange beasts. Sometimes they’re only recognized in hindsight, while sometimes they throw the train off the tracks before a sentence has been completed. Sometimes their effect can be contained and minimized, while sometimes their effect on the political narrative metastasizes.”
These defining moments take hold “most devastatingly when they confirm what a large portion of the electorate already believes. Taken alone, it seems unfair that a single moment, an unguarded remark or a slip of the tongue can carry such weight. They’re often dismissed as “gotcha” moments, but when voters are able to nod and say, “I knew it,” these moments stick and do terrible damage.” We have witnessed such moments then and now and some characters have remained demolition experts from administration to administration.
The Aquino administration has staged several defining moments in support of “kung walang korupt, walang mahirap” or the vaunted “Tuwid na Daan.” But every production has led to a lot of machinations just to show they are intent in pursuing anti-corruption and yet when the ugly head appears in yellow territory, they see, hear or say no evil.
The Corona impeachment was one. It showed political will and at the same time the complicity of the planners to bend the law in order to get things done. Now that isn’t political will in my book. Its being Machiavellian. So, non-declaration in a SALN, although the law allows one to correct it, has become the sword to slay the enemies of this administration or the button to control a perceived oppositionist. And we learned DAP was its own creation to deliver the kill. And DAP continues to unravel with excuses defined and redefined to give legitimacy to the gladiator’s dishonorable act.
PDAF was another defining moment or was it just a propaganda line for an administration trying to distinguish itself from that of Arroyo’s? “Kayo ang Boss ko” would have been a welcomed invocation if it were true. But as it has been invoked so has it also been doublespeak. PDAF remains to be in the budget morphing like the proverbial amoeba.
The representatives of the people, both in the Senate and the House of Representatives, has failed to rise up to the challenges of defending one’s mandate. Most have remained quiet because of the perceived popularity of the President. Aided by surveys, policy became captive audience to the ebbs of popularity. The representatives of the people have also used the pantheon as apex to throw mud to whoever would be the flavor provided by the political wind. The House battled with pork while the Senate tries to cut down the leader of the pack for 2016. In the process, some party list members and a few “opposition” people would battle it out in the lower chamber. But in the Senate, it appears that no one has the gumption to tell the Trio los Bravos, enough is enough. The show, on its 11th run is still hurling mud. The defining moment has turned into a circus where anything goes and the gladiator’s oath is continuously set aside
The Vice President would have been better appreciated had he entered the lion’s den armed with the truth. That would have been a defining moment for him, instead of meeting with the CBCP as bits and pieces of the “confession” are being released in media by an ordinary priest at that. How should one primed for the presidency tell the truth? Via a debate? A vice president taking umbrage on a Senator known for coups. Truly, if the object is to shame him, the trap is dangerous to say the least.
Yolanda is another defining moment a year after but the President, the Vice President and the sentimental favorite of the Liberal Party chose to dance by the sidelines, afraid to redefine one’s political existence. The President couldn’t care the least and remained sniping at critics; the Vice President, recently tasked to spearhead the housing efforts of the Aquino administration in Tacloban and other areas, chose to go to Cebu and missed the opportunity to immediately launch into action. The sentimental favorite, on the other hand, landed in the cover of Esquire. A seemingly pointed parody trended in social media reminding everyone what he has done in the wee hours of the tragedy and the political preach for an Aquino against a Romualdez.
Yolanda a year after looked like a Romuladez-Marcos event in Tacloban. If Aquino does not want to lift a finger and only wants to decide on the transfer of the airport, then Romuladez-Marcos should rebuild their bailiwick. As a Yolanda survivor said, “with or without Aquino, we will rebuild our communities.”
When moments define a political leader, it brings in the persona and hews it with the civicus. Problem with us today is with all the mud; the civicus may have left the pantheon and is now in search of the gladiator who will fight for them in the truest sense.