In the Hunt for Red October, a computer used by an American hunter-killer submarine to identify noises in the ocean mistakes a new type of Soviet propeller noise as a type of earthquake.
In politics, it is easy to hear a noise and think it is one thing when the cause is something else.
Take – for example – Danny Williams’ most recent petty, venomous attack on Sam Synyard, the mayor of Marystown.
Some people may think this is just Danny waging the sort of scurrilous personal attack that is his political stock-in-trade, his default setting. And as sure as Danny Williams had nothing to do with recent oil windfalls in the provincial treasury, so too has he shown a marked preference for the political version of the hockey player’s cheap hit in the corner, the spear.
A few things about this most recent Williams smear point to another cause that produced the usual cross check.
First, Williams noted in his remark after the cabinet shuffle that Sam Synyard complained during the early days of the Igor clean-up – according to Williams anyway - that the provincial government had not done enough after another hurricane. That isn’t the way Synyard came across back in September. It’s also very strange that Williams had plenty of opportunity at the time to smack Synyard but didn’t. Why he brought the whole thing up three weeks later seems odd.
Second, Williams and Synyard are actually on the same wavelength. As the Premier readily noted, the provincial government is ready to pour cash into yet another private sector company.
Third, you’ll find that not only did the Premier revisit the whole Synyard affair for a second day, Premier wannabe Darin King and his fellow cabinet minister Clyde Jackman, chimed in add their voices to the din.
These members of a Reform-based Conservative Party seem a tad sensitive. Just like the political sensitivity displayed during the Igor response. Bridge news conferences when the news story was really somewhere else. Cabinet ministers jumping on any signs of discontent.
And then on CBC on Thursday evening, more stories of discontent on the Burin Peninsula with the slowness of provincial financial aid for people devastated by Igor.
There’s only one more detail you need to add to get the whole picture. Danny called Sam a Liberal.
There is the key to the whole thing. People on the Burin Peninsula aren’t happy with Danny Williams, Darin King and Clyde Jackman. There are lots of unhappy people out there after a series of natural disasters since 2003. That’s one of the reasons why the very first thing the provincial emergency response people made sure to tell everyone after Igor was to get their claims filed early.
You can really tell the political sensitivity because the filing claims is the thing Danny highlighted for people on the day of the storm. He really played up the cash. And then the day after the storm, Danny and his merry band hopped helicopters to tour the Burin Peninsula. That’s how they showed their concern. Even though the Bonavista Peninsula took a demonstrably harder hit, Danny showed up on the Burin. The fact that this political showboating only pissed people off more was just a bonus.
What evidently scares Danny, Clyde and Darin politically shitless is that any politician might do as Danny is wont to do and take political advantage of all that discontent. They know, or at least they think, that this is the sort of issue that could motivate voters and turn around a couple of seats in the next election. It only needs a politician smart enough to hit the sore point.
Attacking Sam Synyard personally is Danny’s way of trying to drive a potentially dangerous political rival off a potentially devastating issue for the for the Conservatives. It’s that simple.
Unless you connect all the dots, though, you’d only see more of the same superficial Danny-noise.
But if you know what to look for, you’ll see the magma displacement that is causing trembling in the political earth in some places. This is not unusual rumbling, mind you, but in the imaginary world created by Danny Williams – the world where all is perfect and he alone is master – any sign of problems, any opening for an opponent is like a hurricane, earthquake and tidal wave rolled into one.
Oh yes. Some places, plural.
It’s not just the Burin or even the Great Northern. Labrador West, sections of the northeast coast. They are all places where the locals are unhappy with the current administration. To the Conservatives they are threats to life and limb.
And to the other parties they are potential opportunities. That’s what has Danny, Clyde and Darin and all their friends so jumpy.
- srbp -