EDITOR, The Tribune.
Brent Symonette is a stunningly naïve man.
That he occupied the office of Foreign Minister for even one day is testimony to the axiom of politics making strange bedfellows. How else can you explain the utterances of a man who is repeatedly out of step with the mainstream in this country? It cannot be that he believes Bruce Raine speaks for any but a small group who thinks like him.
Brent wants another turn in public office and may have his sights set on the big chair in the cabinet room. But he continues to put his big foot in his mouth and to reveal an amazing level of ignorance.
His latest revelation is that if he could he would have voted for Donald Trump over Hilary Clinton in the last US election. Clearly Brent is tone deaf. The overwhelming majority of the people he still hopes to serve have a visceral dislike of Mr. Trump and are still trying to come to terms with his victory.
Trump has a history of bigotry. He hounded the first black president in the US to produce his birth certificate. Trump promoted the fallacy that somehow Barack Obama was a Kenyan interloper. He demanded the death penalty for four black men in New York who were convicted and later exonerated for a horrific crime in Central Park.
We know that he is a misogynist. We know that he bragged about assaulting women. We know that his courts had to back-hand slap him over a Muslim ban. And there is so much more to come.
But he is Brent’s man of business. There was Brent at a service club luncheon sucking up to President Trump, trying to channel their solidarity by wearing a red necktie (presumably from the Donald Trump line of made-in-China haberdashery).
Apparently Hilary Clinton when she was Secretary of State wasn’t enamored with Brent and so he had to even the score.
As foreign minister Brent would have been obliged to set aside his personal feelings about Mrs. Clinton and look after the national interests of the Bahamian people, not his own.
I now doubt whether Brent has a clear understanding of how the US government actually works. The Ambassador’s chair at the US Embassy here sat vacant for the last five years and Brent says it’s because the US Senate couldn’t confirm the appointee.
He must know that the Senate used political brinksmanship to hold up Barack Obama’s appointee. “Couldn’t confirm” sounds like there was some defect in her resumé. “Refused to even consider the nominee” is more like it.
He then implied that Mr. Trump has already settled on a person to be Ambassador here and that person is now house-hunting. Breathtaking ignorance. Trump hasn’t even gotten Senate confirmation on all of his Cabinet yet. Ambassadors are down the line.
For starters Trump would have to propose a nominee to our government and get what is known in diplomacy as “agrément” – essentially our acquiescence to the choice. Buckingham Palace would have to be in the mix because diplomatic credentials are exchanged between heads of state.
Brent told his audience that the new Ambassador was already house-hunting. But doesn’t the US Ambassador live at Liberty Overlook, their official residence out west?
Again trying to impress his audience, Brent says it was unlikely Trump would cancel the agreement for the AUTEC facility on Andros. For God’s sake, Brent, agreements have clauses that spell out the terms for ending them and unilateral action probably has consequences.
As to the budget appropriation process in the US, their constitution states that only Congress can appropriate funds. If money is earmarked to build an embassy here Mr. Trump just can’t willy-nilly divert those funds elsewhere without Congressional approval.
Brent seems to believe that the US defers to the OECD in its financial policy making. That will come as news to our bankers and to the OECD themselves as they try to make sense of the unilateral and over-reaching US FATCA law.
Till now most of the world has been keeping its powder dry because they simply don’t know Mr. Trump’s position on heretofore bedrock US foreign policy principles.
But perhaps Brent has a private twitter bromance with the US President and knows more than the rest of the world.
After all, Mr Trump is vain enough to be impressed by Brent’s sartorial flirtations.
February 16, 2017.