I look around, and despite the clamour, perhaps because of it, I am prompted to ask: whither the presidency today? Thinking some more, I have other questions: Do we have one? A real one? If yes, where can this mystery be found?
Looking back, there is almost always something that could be said. Burnham (acumen); Jagan (dedication); Hoyte (outlook) and Jagdeo (nothing). Nothing because when there is an absolute absence of anything good or positive, that comes to mind, then nothing follows. Still, the question persists: whither the presidency today?
At first, I thought in cricketing terms: backward short leg and silly mid-off, with emphasis on the first word in each instance, but believed that these were not quite on the money. Then I came to the realization that a musical medley catches and covers the essentials most appropriately. It is a long song, part comical, somewhat sad, mostly dismal, but portrays a true song and dance figure in sharp undeniable outline.
Echoes of the Beatles came first: He is a real nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land. Sounds like a nice fit to me. But even before that plaintive sound could fade, I hear the Tams pleading, What kind of fool do you think I am? Now the answer to that lyrical question is best kept out of the public domain. Still I wonder –the question crooned is being asked of whom? Comrades? Predecessor? The Guyanese people? Like I said, silence is golden in this instance.
Now I know the presidency is a dirty job that somebody has to do. Perhaps that is why a daily favourite of the big man is Patsy Cline wailing I fall to pieces. Given standing mass and volume, that is a lot of pieces, and a whole lot of falling…
Those who lack a smidgen of empathy for the jobholder should note that he is in the same boat with Neil Diamond lamenting, Morningside the old man died and no one cried. That is why the only thing that keeps the party comrades going is the nostalgia of the Drifters singing Memories are made of this. And in the unlikely event that that fails to stir the faithful, there is always Brook Benton’s sweet and darkly velvet rendition of These are the ties that bind. And bind they do to the dead and a founder conveniently interred when the loyal get ideas or become adventurous. It is enough to bring a tear to even the most hardhearted.
For those harbouring doubts about how low the presidency has sunk should know that Sam Cook’s Twisting the night away has been converted to a dance (and weight loss) craze at festive gatherings. Except that it is now called ‘backballin’ and gyrated to night and day.
By the way, that stalled anti-money laundering legislation best captures the presidential mood in that bluesy gem from Joe Simon, Just enough, just enough to keep me hanging on. And if that is not enough, then Dionne Warwick provides comfort that Wishing and hoping and… praying might lead somewhere. Yes, hope persists; it is why the nation hears the presidential brinksmanship of Elvis Pressley’s It’s now or never. The sticking point is that the opposition has serious objections to that part about ‘come hold me tight’ business.
Its leaders shudder when they contemplate some of the fellows involved, inclusive of both current and previous people.
When all the lamenting and crying fails, solace is best found in the superbly named Jimmy James and the Vagabonds and their rendition of Diamond’s, Red, red wine. That would be both the liquid and the ideology.
When all the singing and crying is over, this is the presidency on display. Somewhere in there, there happens to be a president lurking.