Not a handful of weeks ago the announcement that retired Army Commander Brigadier David Granger has pipped one-time PNC Finance Minister Carl Greenidge for the nomination as the party’s presidential candidate set tongues wagging amongst the party faithful. “A fresh face!” “a gentleman soldier!” no baggage! no skeletons! Just what the doctor ordered! Those were just a handful of the accolades that greeted the announcement that Mr. Granger would run for the presidency. Sophia had spoken and not even Mr. Jagdeo’s tasteless “blood on his hands” Babu John remark could shake the faith of party followers in the prospect of seeing the promised land.
What a difference a few weeks can make” The euphoria has come and gone like mist in sunlight; the cheering has stopped and since then it has been a rocky road for the Brigadier. The word on the streets is that there is now a noise of war in the camp as the people impatiently await the descent of their Moses from the mountains holding aloft the tablets of stone, urging them forward to that promised land. The cry of where is our David, our Moses, issues forth from every tenement yard, every working class community, every bottom house where PNCR supporters strain at the leash to catch a glimpse of this political Messiah whom they say is now shielded from their view by a tight formation of his military buddies and – rumour has it – from under the ever watchful eye of the man who insists on reminding all and sundry that even if he is not the presidential candidate he is still the party boss, running things, with no plans to demit office in a hurry.
The problem with David, it is being said, is that he has so many minders, so many handlers and so few shrewd political strategists in his camp that he has no choice but to conceive every good idea, write every speech and vet every press release that has to do with his campaign. The hapless retired soldier has reportedly been working himself to the bone, dotting campaign I’s and crossing campaign T’s so that he has no time left for doing what he really supposed to be doing CAMPAIGINING, REACHING OUT, FIRING UP THE PEOPLE FOR THE BIG DAY. Where, one asks, are the Carl Greenidges, the Faith Hardings, the Aubrey Nortons, the Debbie Backers et al. Are they not part of this bandwagon?
The time is overdue, people are saying, for the Brigadier to set aside – if he can, of course – his austere style, his mild manner, his anonymity in the huge shadow of an instinctively conservative persona and step into the light, the energy, the excitement, the theatre and the boisterousness of a real life elections campaign. What his impatient supporters are demanding are upbeat appeals to the nation to rally round the PNC – BEG YOUR PARDON! Rally round APNU! The cry from the party faithful these days is where is our soldier man, our Moses? It is even being suggested that the Brigadier – setting aside all his minders and his handlers – might himself be failing to recognize that winning an election is no stroll in the park, no endless cycle of meaningless meetings and strategy sessions; no round after round of coffee table chats…that, going forward, there will be fewer austere and attentive, conference-type audiences and more worked-up, high-spirited, raucous, hooting, howling, heckling crowds…the masses; and that the informative but largely uninspiring speeches will have to be supplanted by more shouting and sound bite and a considerable upping of the tempo.
The word is that the time has long come for the Brigadier to take himself and his campaign TO THE STREETS, TO THE SLUMS, TO THE PEOPLE, TO HYPE THEM UP… to cut the long-winded carping and to give life to a campaign that currently has as much energy as a spent light bulb. The Brigadier, people are saying, must step up to the plate NOW!