For example, in the past week I have had at least five anti-Manning jokes forwarded to me by different persons. You might have received some of them. One is about a stamp with Mr Manning’s image. The stamp apparently simply would not stick and Mr Manning was most upset and demanded a full scale investigation. The result of the investigation? People had been spitting on the wrong side of the stamp.
Then there is the fake e-mail which purports to have gone to over two million persons and invites the reader to add their name to the list of persons who want to show their support for Prime Minister Manning. The Number one name on the list is Mrs Manning. There is no other name on the list.
Then there is “Psalm 2010” which outlines the failings of the PM and his party and ends
“I am glad I am Trinidadian/ I am glad that I am free/ But I wish I was a dog... and Patrick was a tree.”
Juvenile humour? Absolutely. But it is still a reflection of the near contempt with which the seemingly average citizen has come to view a man who, by virtue of his position, should be able to expect some form of respect from his people. But from Percy Villafana to the ten-times a day posted angry rantings of the members of the web group JahajeeDesi2005, this country seems ready to boil over with what could be characterised as a personal hatred of the Prime Minister.
Mr Manning and his Cabinet have not helped the situation with their most recent attempt to lash out at the UNC coalition. One cannot help but wonder what kind of desperation was at work when the decision was made at whatever level to block the entrance to this country of “Obama man” Bernard Campbell.
Mr Obama enjoys incredible popularity in this country. He is an international icon to many and Bernie Campbell was one of the men who worked to bring his light to America and the rest of the world. Mr Manning was one of many world leaders who were eager and proud to be seen shaking hands with Mr Obama during his recent visit to this country. What madness could have been in the mind of whoever gave the directive to block Mr Campbell from this country? Who in their right mind would want to create an international incident to embarrass the people of this country, a people who, when Mr Obama was campaigning, acted as if he was running for president of their own country, so in love with him were they.
If Mr Manning was not so coherent and articulate on the political platform one would have to wonder at his sanity. But the fact is that, despite all the playing with semantics on both sides of the political divide, Mr Manning is getting his political points — or at least one big point — home. He keeps harping on the issue of political coalitions and their fragility and although UNC and other pundits have come forward to disprove his hypothesis that coalition governments have failed in previous manifestations in this country, Mr Manning is still probing at a sore spot in the coalition and raising a spectre which is the hidden fear of so many who support the coalition — that things will prove as disastrous as they did under previous NAR and UNC governments; that chaos will unfold and things will, indeed, fall apart.
Despite what many may think of Mr Manning he is first and foremost a political animal, forged under the strong-armed rule of Eric Williams and a survivor of too many political battles to count. He is canny and street-smart when it comes to the ways of politics. He has characterised himself as the most vilified prime minister this country has ever seen, which has been dismissed in various ways by his critics and opponents (what about Basdeo Panday, for goodness sake) but, once his PNM followers have looked up the word in the dictionary (just my little joke) they would have rallied to his side in expected sympathy and unquestioned support.
Yes, Mr Manning is starting to appear like a political buffoon to many and he has become the butt of too many jokes and critiques to count but don’t count out the man yet because he is a fighter and a political survivor and he could yet outwit us all.