13 September 2011

The Popeye Algorithm #nlpoli

"I am who I am.

That’s Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaking to reporters about comments her benefactor Danny Williams made on Monday about Elizabeth Matthews and the botched effort by Williams, Dunderdale, Matthews and natural resources minister Shawn Skinner to get Matthews a six year appointment to the offshore regulatory board.

Williams told CBC on Monday:

In my opinion, Elizabeth Matthews – of all the women I have met in politics including my ministers – was the most competent woman I had come across.

Dunderdale quite rightly blew off Williams’ barb on the aspect of this story that Conservatives are obsessing over.  Dunderdale looked stressed in the photo accompanying the CBC story on her scrum.  That’s likely because the Matthews debacle has only served to bring to the surface again the internal cleavages in her party.

There’s the Danny-lovers who aren’t happy with Dunderdale’s actions toward their beloved former Saviour.  There’s the local Tories who still loathe the federal Tories and resent Dunderdale’s efforts to cuddle up to them during the last federal election.  And then there’s the bunch who would just as soon heal the rifts, play with the federal buddies and move along.

And somewhere in there are the wannabe leaders who went along with the temporary ceasefire in the suspended leadership campaign.  They are just itching to get it over with so they can get Dunderdale gone.

Somehow, the answer to all that doesn’t seem to be “I yam what I yam and dats all what I yam.”

A pointed rejoinder to Williams would have been for Williams to point that she’s nobody’s baby.  Williams claimed he was instrumental in getting Dunderdale her nomination.  Bullshit, Dunderdale could have said. The former party president didn’t need  Williams help to get a nomination.  She did it in 1993.  She was active in the party during the years when Danny had sent Dean over to the Liberals to help cut some deals.

Lots of things she could have said.

Even a trademark Williams “pfft.”

Truth is, though, Dunderdale knows she sits atop a seething pile of egos, old wounds, resentments and just plain politics. That’s what happens inside any governing party after a while. The fact Danny Williams suppressed the egos and ambitions for seven years screwed the lid on the pressure cooker that much tighter than usual.  That’s why the Conservatives who’ve reacted publicly to Williams’ comments have picked up on the Danny gripe.  They are looking internally because that’s where things seem to be most unsettled.

The rest of the province is likely looking at what your humble e-scribbler and CBC both saw separately in the same documents:  a trio of Tory political types named Matthews, Dunderdale and Skinner who could not get their stories straight or match the stories with the facts.

It is as though they never imagined that the whole story might emerge. Complacency kills, they say.  Think of it as the eighth deadly sin for bomb disposal experts and political types who manage controversial issues.  A moment’s inattention, one skipped step or one unfounded assumption and suddenly you are sailing through the air wondering what the loud noise was.

Think it doesn’t happen?

Consider Dunderdale’s comment about the draft letter Danny Williams had prepared that offered Matthews the job.  Dunderdale told reporters she only became aware of it when an access to information request went out.  Or worse, as CBC reports it, Dunderdale only knew the letter existed on Monday.

In other words, after it appeared here and CBC broadcast their story.

Those familiar with the goings-on at offices as high as Dunderdale’s will look on that and stare in disbelief.

No amount of spinach can make that sort of thing go away.

- srbp -