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Warner enjoins the public to defy reality

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After Jack Warner resigned last month from the cabinet of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister, we pretty much surmised that, as far as this space was concerned, the question of any further notice of Warner had been effectively put to rest. An odious guy who evidently believes fat-wallet status guarantees him access to anything upon which he sets his sights (whether or not a situation conventionally lends itself to any “purchase”), Warner had stood as one of the symbols of the government’s reckless disregard for principled governance ever since he held a ministerial post while a FIFA vice president. Shame on us for misreading the resignation gambit, for thinking the resignation would end the hokey stuff from one of the main clown acts in the circus.

Warner must think he is an absolute master of sleight-of-hand and subterfuge. Assuming his first portfolio, ministry of works, the razzle–dazzle impetus kicked right in, with a Johnny-on-the-spot, first-man-on-job regimen. With a “hardest working minister” reputation duly established, who among the citizenry would dare ponder that Warner had no business being simultaneously a minister of government and FIFA big cheese? But as one knew to be inevitable with the man, it wouldn’t be long before there’d be a dicey intersecting of those two lines of authority. Warner’s ambitious move in backing a representative from Qatar in a challenge to the sitting FIFA president was perhaps where things began coming unglued beyond Warner’s calculations. The alleged distribution of cash bribes to regional football representatives at a Port of Spain meeting became what came to be seen as one power-grab maneuver that was the bridge too far.

Still, though, the irresistible predisposition to duping whoever cared to listen to his rants. The turn of events, with a FIFA inquiry into the bribery scandal that forced him to resign from the organization rather than face the music (which assuredly wasn’t going to be “He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”), was smoothly papered over in the Warner accounting. He resigned from FIFA, he declared, because he loves Trinidad and Tobago and chose to work for the country. Of such is the man: an unusual specimen wherein resides this incomprehensible penchant for lumping all but himself into one humongous ship of fools.

The prime minister of the country is not without blame, naturally, for having named Warner to the cabinet in the first instance in an appearance-of-conflict situation so crystal clear. And Persad-Bissessar only compounded the bad call by subsequently making Warner minister of national security. This feigning indifference, if that’s what it was, by the prime minister to all the crap swirling around Warner was the kind of devil-may-care display from her that for the umpteenth time called her judgment into question. Persad-Bissessar acting clueless as to the far-reaching implications of a radioactive Warner overseeing Trinidad and Tobago’s security wasn’t exactly a badge of honor for the lady.

We don’t know whether that report last month on the financial affairs of CONCACAF, the regional football body, that called out Warner big time and caused him to resign from the cabinet, also prompted a call from his party colleagues that he resign as chairman of the party and relinquish his parliamentary seat. The first would be more plausible. Asking Warner to give up the seat he holds in Central Trinidad would be foolhardy for the party, the United National Congress, to have done, given the situation on the ground. But here was Warner, after he had resigned all three positions, in the wake of damning evidence made public of his finagling ways in CONCACAF, again running true to form with a subterfuge routine. As he instructed, “the people” were supposed to turn a blind eye to the misappropriating, double-dealing, what-have-you that transpired in CONCACAF that some learned professionals had investigated and revealed. He resigned, Warner said, because he realized there were individuals, presumably within the party fold, who were out to get him.

It gets more preposterous. The problem, he said, became really serious when he saw that some of his colleagues in the party had made a “slide into gutter politics.” Yup, that’s what the press quoted Warner saying to a public gathering the other day. Warner, who has shown a preference for a retort that involves invoking the questioner’s mother, or something comparable, when an issue he deems out of bounds is raised with him. Warner, who said of that activist on a hunger strike a while ago, that the man should “hurry up and dead.” His party’s gutter politics appalled him, he said.

Those unimaginably dumbfounding remarks were made at a rally in his former constituency where he was launching his bid to be a candidate for the seat he resigned. The beat goes on. It’s anything for a sideshow. Warner’s antics will be a continuing distraction, regrettably so. But there’s nothing more pleasing to the man himself. Having by now gotten used to the idea of possessing the wherewithal to be a “fixer” of all things – no exceptions -- he isn’t about to let a FIFA inquiry that forced his ouster from there or a CONCACAF report that forced him out of government, to derail his locomotive. Denial of reality will continue ad infinitum. The tragedy is there’ll likely be enough lame-brained lackeys around to keep him secure in his state of sick self-deception.

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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