By Inigo ‘Naughty’ Zenicazelaya
By now, you’ve probably heard much about how Prime Minister Perry Christie shocked Bahamians near and far by waving the old “one finger salute” at a campaign rally on Monday night. Was I surprised that the prime minister used an obscenity to get a point across? No. Was he surprised that his “cursing mad” stunt didn’t work so well this time around? It sure seems that way.
The Fickle Finger of Fate
Like many of the ideas and decisions coming out of his administration these days, our prime minister is stuck in a rut.
He can’t get Bahamians to agree with his policy ideas (as evidenced by his two failed referenda). He can’t manage to get Baha Mar opened fast enough (even though he had a heavy hand in its epic fall back in 2015). And he can’t get a grip on many of the issues adversely affecting Bahamians such as crime and a floundering economy.
Truth be told, if the Christie administration’s record were cards in a game of Texas Holdem, our PM would be slumped at the table, low chip stack, desperately squeezing a pair of Jokers for dear life.
And desperation, friends, makes people do strange things.
With an election within arm’s reach, it seems Mr Christie’s desperation has manifested itself in the colourful hand gesture he flipped off this week.
His chubby middle finger (pointed to the heavens, no less) may as well have come with a bucket of tears, because in the word of DJ Trump it was ‘Sad!’
Still, to my eyes, the reason we saw our dignified PM finally do the unthinkable isn’t found in the dubious spin his PLP surrogates and sycophants would have us believe.
To hear them tell it, Prime Minister Christie flipped the bird because he was fed up at critics and so-called false rumours. Someone said something about some condominiums, Christie said. Someone verbally attacked his wife and family, Minister of Agriculture V Alfred Gray said. He was justified in his response to vicious rumours, purveyor of ‘political prostitutes’ and Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald said.
So... which is it? I wish Mr Christie, Heckle and Jeckel would get their stories straight.
To understand why a man who takes pains to come off as eloquent, composed, learned and highbrow would stoop so low to gesture a profanity in public we have to go back to the last election.
Back in 2012, I was the host of a morning radio show that aired on More94fm.
Immediately following my show, Real Talk with Ortland Bodie Jr. aired. One of the more memorable episodes of Real Talk leading up to the last general election is one in which the then opposition leader, Perry G Christie, appeared as a guest and broke all rules of broadcasting norms by uttering the word “jackass.”
Supposedly, he was responding to some rumour about himself riding around in a car, stalking out boundaries with former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. If memory serves me right, DNA Leader Branville McCartney was a part of the conversation via the phone lines as well.
Back then, when he cussed in a way we hadn’t heard politicians cuss on live radio, Mr. Christie was lauded. ‘Boy, he serious, ey!’ and ‘Christie don’t play’ were some of the cheering responses from listeners across the land. I even heard someone say, in Christie’s defense, “he een do nuttin wrong... ‘Jackass’ is in the Bible!”
Fast forward to 2017 and here stands Mr Christie getting publicly excoriated for a gesture whose verbal equivalent is most certainly not in the Bible.
How did he get here? Well, the short answer is he finally fell victim to that old Bahamian idiom ‘a long run for a short catch.’
You see, I really don’t buy that Prime Minister Christie was upset over some WhatsApp rumour or some recent slight against his family.
He’s too proud of his abilities in verbal gymnastics to fall for something like that. I mean, was the person who started the rumour riding with the car with him on the way to Fox Hill?
Were they harassing him on a hidden earpiece, heckling him live as he gave his speech?
Because you would think the man who has launched a million memes and been in politics since he was a fetus would have thicker skin by now.
I am inclined to believe, in the age that has seen the meteoric rise of the sharp-tongued Donald Trump, the PM tried the old ‘shock em and sock em’ political routine.
After all, nobody complained back in 2012 when his supporters ate up the word “jackass” as some sort of sign of strength. Nobody complained when he called FNM leader Dr Minnis “idiotic” late last year.
And nobody complained when he moaned about his MPs’ propensity to “bitch and complain” back in January.
Yet with one false word (via an upstanding finger) Mr Christie saw the tide turn on his potty-mouth political stunts.
His vulgar gesture, coupled with the vulgar way he has governed, has finally gone too far.
For the record, I don’t think Mr Christie is some angel. Nor do I expect him to be in private.
I’d guess he often screams the same obscenities when things don’t go his way that the general public screams when he comes our way careening through traffic in his 100mph motorcade.
That’s to be expected.
What I didn’t expect is for our prime minister to go along with an obvious political stunt that has done more damage to his reputation than all of his previous stunts combined. Watch the video circulating on social media and you will see a man, eyes glazed over, who has that moment of contemplation and hesitation before he says those legacy busting words and gives Bahamians the infamous finger.
He should have shuffled around and given it a second thought.
Though one of his chief spin doctors (and opening act) Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell had the crowd primed with his talk of “ass,” crudely referencing attorney Fred Smith, the prime minister’s gesture was just too much for the crowd.
In the words of fellow comedian Kevin Hart, ‘They wasn’t ready.’
Seriously, just because one hair-dyeing, details dodging, seventy-year-old can be accepted and elected by being cunningly crass doesn’t mean they all can. Fate is fickle.
Bye, Bye, Branetta!
Okay, so we all knew this divorce was inevitable. We knew it wouldn’t last. We knew that DNA leader Branville McCartney would turn out to be the type of guy Loretta Butler-Turner’s mother warned her about.
Now that Mr McCartney has resigned from Parliament after getting a senator’s plate, a green passport and some temporary relevance courtesy of Official Opposition Leader Butler-Turner for four months, the breakup we all could see coming is official.
Still, I’m left wondering why McCartney would resign now, even as a FOIA Bill (and possibly soon a ‘Spy Bill’) is before the Senate? Surely Bahamians could have used his legal prowess in the Senate debates right now.
Do you think maybe -just maybe- he’s in love with the politics but has no drive to work on actual policies? I’m just saying it takes a lot of arrogance to ask voters to give you ‘an opportunity’ even as they watch you quit the second of two major opportunities you’ve been given.
Goodbye, Branetta. You were a function of that enormous arrogance and the spawn of two colossal egos. Like “Bennifer” and “Brangelina” before you, I always remember you, even as I bang my head against a wall trying like crazy to forget.