In the game of courtship, be it in politics or in life, you can say “yes” too soon. You could miss much better opportunities.
And you can also say “no” too quickly and too often. No one may come around anymore to seek your hand, when you have lost your bloom.
I see these hard lessons of life playing out in the unfolding drama of the politics of 2016 as would-be candidates mix and match in order to fashion the best tandem for the coming balloting.
You would think that Vice-President Jejomar Binay and former local government secretary Mar Roxas, having formally declared their candidacies, would each have found by now a suitable running mate.
But oddly neither has had much luck.
Binay, the acknowledged frontrunner in surveys since pollsters first started to ask voters, has found no one to dance with him. Everyone he’s offered the slot to has turned him down.
Roxas, taking a different tack, has set his sights on getting a woman politician as his running mate. Alas, he’s like a fresh college graduate who cannot find someone attractive to hook up with him.
Roxas has literally gone everywhere offering his hand in political marriage and has been turned down.
The situation is so odd and troubling, it is spurring analysis and speculation, not just by pundits but by the gentler sex.
The lady who said ‘Yes’ to Roxas
The lady/woman who said “Yes” to Mar Roxas at the altar – onetime broadcaster Korina Sanchez -- is silently stewing in her seat, as her loved one flails wildly to get a running mate for 2016.
“Why,” Korina must be wondering, “can’t Mar find someone to dance with him? He’s healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Roxas first offered the slot to Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares, not once but several times, and has been coquettishly refused, not once, but several times.
Next, he offered it to Batangas governor and one-time movie superstar Vilma Santos-Recto. The offer raised speculations that they could be a popular tandem. But Vilma, on the advice of her husband, Senate President Protempore Ralph Recto, declined. The prospect of a Senate presidency for Ralph is not inducement enough.
Next , Roxas decided to offer the slot to Congresswoman Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur, the widow of former Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo. Roxas was joined by President Aquino no less in Naga City to try to persuade Leni to run with him. The lady politely turned them both down, pleading the exigencies of local politics in her province as requiring her to stay home.
With three high profile suits coming a cropper, Roxas is now reduced to finding another lady, or settling instead for a politician of his own sex.
The situation is so dim, it’s now being seriously suggested that Roxas should offer the vice-presidential slot to chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.
Ms. Ferrer negotiated the deal between the Aquino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that produced the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill.
Media observers say that Ferrer has a vote base in Muslim Mindanao because of her exertions for the MILF’s dream state. President Aquino may give this pairing his blessing.
Korina is not amused.
The Lady who said ‘No’
Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares is intently watching developments in Mar’s search for a running mate.
She has framed offers of a vice-presidential spot against the background of her own itch to run for president in 2016. This has served as a blinder that simultaneously makes her both unseeing and clueless.
While she plays hard to get, the possible candidacies of other rivals are slowly but surely catching fire. Most notable are the possible bids of Sen. Bongbong Marcos and Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
These are serious possibilities looming on the horizon. If ever Marcos and Duterte decide to run together, they could unleash a political tsunami as big as typhoon Yolanda. The politics of 2016 will be totally transformed.
I wrote some three weeks back that Grace Poe could become yesterday’s news if she does not grasp the nettle of the choice before her.
She has played deaf and dumb about the serious criticism leveled against her by columnists, and the recent complaints against her before the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Commission on Elections. She has made no effort to coherently answer questions about her citizenship and residency status.
She plays both the coquette and kiss-and-tell in her talks with presidentiables and matchmakers. After failed negotiations, she invariably tells the media what has been discussed or not discussed.
Perhaps she is hoping to get an offer she cannot refuse. Opportunities are flitting by her.
She looked on nervously when the Roxas-Recto tandem was floated and headlined by the media.
When President Aquino and Roxas both flew to Naga to court Robredo, Grace thought her gig was up.
These telltale signs that Roxas is moving towards a decision soon has made Grace realize that she could disappear completely from national politics, if she does not play her cards right.
This has led her and her handlers to frantically grab at straws to sustain her political relevance and popularity. This shows in the banality and amateurism of her recent moves, such as:
Floating a statement by her eldest son that his mother is close to making a decision about her presidential candidacy.
Grace blaming Mar Roxas and his partymates for the charges before the SET and the Comelec.
The confused handling of her supposed alliance with the Nationalist People’s Alliance (NPC), which is now wracked by desertions into the Roxas camp.
Do the lady who said yes and the lady who said no cancel each other out?
Perhaps. It increasingly appears that Grace Poe does not have the political smarts to navigate effectively through these choppy waters.
Her best options could now be behind her, not in front of her.
In the volatile and unpredictable politics of 2016, some “presidency-or-nothing” politicians will become irrelevant. And new contenders will surface and get to the frontline of the race.