I have written so much of the two presidents that came from the PNC – Forbes Burnham and Desmond – in my 32-year-old career in journalism that a researcher can turn those writings into a book length manuscript.
I knew hardly anything about the politics of Granger when he became president and as he settled into the presidency, my analyses were not unkind to him. As he showed a complete lack of leadership qualities, proved to be a devious leader, showed that he had no self-confidence, and was happy to parade as a closet dictator then as a media functionary, a social activist and a trained academic, I had no more positive statements to make about Granger. This was from late 2016 onwards.
Mr. Granger says he will accept GECOM’s declaration without conditions attached. I will warm my readers not to be optimistic. Granger is not as smart and thinking as Forbes Burnham. Granger is not as principled and patriotic as Desmond Hoyte. But more importantly, Granger is not concerned with intellectual standing and personal pride as Burnham and Hoyte were.
Do not confuse a dictator’s excesses with his conceptualization of fundamental values. If one reads the books on Albert Speer, one of Adolph Hitler’s most trusted Cabinet ministers, you will see that an autocratic leader still shows concern about how others think about him and he takes measures to ensure that he does not appear foolish and confused in the eyes of his peers.
There are silly things that Granger has done that have damaged his reputation and character enormously that Burnham and Hoyte would have never even contemplated. They were too smart to make those mistakes. Burnham and Hoyte would never refer to the Chief Justice decision as “that is her interpretation.”
Because they were self-confident, Burnham and Hoyte would have faced the nation and the world with well-studied explanations of why they reversed a stated policy. Mr. Granger does not have even a modicum of self-confidence, so he hides behind his senior party colleagues. One should have judged and dismissed Granger’s presidency from the time he backpedaled on his 2015 election promise of softening the law relating to marijuana.
It was he and he alone in both the PNC and AFC that no longer wanted the amendment. But he did not have the courage to face the nation with a plausible reasoning as to why he postponed it. Burnham and Hoyte would never have taken that direction because they felt mentally and politically comfortable in putting forward their positions.
Both Burnham and Hotye would have explained why the time was not right to have the changes to the law and they would have faced the media and engaged in exchanges with the journalists. For Burnham’s part, he would have laced his reason with funny retorts while Hoyte would have taken a more vexed attitude, arguing with the media yet facing them and fielding their questions.
There hasn’t been an elected head of government in any part of the world in the 20th and 21st century who refused to meet regularly with the press. Granger formally called a press conference on three occasions in his reign of five years, two months which showed most graphically the absence of leadership qualities.
Last night, a majority of Guyanese would have gone to bed with a large dose of optimism after they read that Granger said he would accept a GECOM declaration without conditionality attached. One hopes they know a little bit about the man who was president for five years. Granger is not obsessed with the way he comes across as the other two presidents who came from the PNC were.
Granger is going to dissolve your optimism before this day of July 31 comes to an end. He is going to do recount number 2. What is recount number 2? After Mia Mottley cajoled him into accepting a recount (do not deceive yourself; Granger did not generate the idea of a recount, that came from Mottley – see my column of Monday, July 6, 2020, “A secret about the CARICOM recount covenant that must be told.”). It is the game where Granger enunciates a direction then weakens it, calling in others to do the mischief. So he agreed with the recount but he allowed PNC’s lawyers to go to court to stop it.
When the GECOM declaration comes (if it ever comes), Granger is going to step back and allow the PNC and the AFC to argue that what GECOM did was not a declaration but an illegality. And the Draculean drama will remain on stage. I hope I am wrong.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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