The political demolition job : the effectivity of slinging mud & dirt

by Dean de la Paz , as originally posted on Blog Watch, Philippine Online Chronicles.

It is proof of the effectivity of slinging mud and dirt. The ratings of the Vice President as a choice for the presidential elections on 2016 recently fell by ten points even as he continually retains a comfortable lead over the ruling party’s presumptive candidate whose numbers inched up by approximately six.The Vice President is a victim of a well-orchestrated and funded smear job that has yet to turn into a fatal wound. So maybe, the ruinous rigmarole has yet to run its course.

The latter, on the other hand, is likewise a victim, albeit not of externally generated mudslinging as the former is. His is mostly from self-inflicted wounds, that, by some indications, appear fatal. While it moved his ranking up to second, simply consider the field behind him. In terms of objective competence, he leads because he is simply the first among a field of losers.

jojo binay

That these are aberrant realities of our political development and maturity are unfortunate. It is a scorched earth scenario both by design and by accident. That mudslinging works is not a flattering description of the electorate.

Sometime during the first quarter of 2010, in the middle of the campaign period for the presidential elections, fearing that competence, a finely-honed business acumen coupled with a well-funded campaign might overwhelm what was still then an amateurish kitschy show business campaign operated by friends and acquaintances in the tabloid entertainment industry, campaign managers were quickly dispatched and a more aggressive, albeit, dirty tricks department tact was taken to ensure a candidate from nowhere with no real merit and no real qualifications might clamber up the presidency.

mannyvillarThe front runner from Tondo had an excellent rags-to-riches story that endeared and provided both hope and a true-to-life role model much needed where the outgoing was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and through both manipulation and accident dashed hopes via an inordinate extension of her stay at Malacanang.

The front runner had an excellent Cinderella story. That he also was a successful business man and was one of our wealthiest indicated a business acumen as well as a logical assurance that he would not steal as did a predecessor.

Indeed, he was formidable. He was both the former Speaker of the House and a Senate President, together the highest positions in our democracy next to the president in the succession protocols. In both offices he was an exemplar. Toppling him required the most vicious demolition jobs if the legion of ambitious demons salivating for too long to install a minion and control the presidency might have a snowball’s chance in hell.

Providence provided the rest. A beloved icon of our resurgent post-dictatorship democracy, former President Corazon Aquino suddenly passed away and in dying ignited an emotional firestorm that lit the underside of a historically moribund and unlikely political career that had long been undistinguished, unproductive, impotent and virtually barren.

The demolition job that eventually smeared and tarnished a 2010 front runner with the same dark hues as a discredited predecessor was designed to keep competition at bay. Especially those that offered substantially better alternatives in terms of intellect, experience and competence. While fate and providence simply coated an empty blank sheet with the color of bright yellow, darker hues were needed to be smeared on legitimately more competent competitors.

The number one priority was to grab the presidency at all costs against a field of frontrunners comprised of one our most competent, to one of our most endearing, and, from left field, to one of the most unlikely, being neither competent nor endearing, or even known for any kind of sheen or brilliance.

It was a foregone conclusion that the candidate handpicked by then exiting incumbent Gloria Arroyo would suffer the fate of one marked with Arroyo’s kiss of death. Never mind that he might have sterling qualities of the kind of leader the nation needed – from extraordinary intelligence, a knack for hard work, to simple decency.

gilberto-teodoroThe dogs in the doghouse needed to get theirs into Malacanang. Their bet was popular but so was the next two guys gunning for the presidency. The popularity was vicarious and second hand. Manuel Villar’s and Joseph Estrada’s were not, derived as they were from self-created handmade personal merit. While the Liberal Party’s was manipulable, a candidate thought to lack critical intelligence and thoughtful discernment, these negative traits were effectively positives considering the upside possibilities for image makers working with a formless clump of clay.

Handlers, dog trainers and wranglers could mould him into what appealed to the unthinking electorate, packaging him as an everyman who looked homely, spoke their language, titillating with shallow colloquialism, kitschy philosophies and simplistic logic, and finally, show business tastelessness. By pulling the puppet strings, dangling the carrot and making him do as they pleased – he was the perfect political harlequin – a Pavlovian Frankenstein creature whose principal feature was blandness and the total absence of the ability to discern truth from falsehoods.

Properly transformed, coiffured to resemble the least common denominators, or at the very least, draped with the appropriate guises, he could very well serve as a diametric counterpoint to the front runner forging ahead and the convicted albeit pardoned plunderer hot on his heals.

All it needed was a well-funded demolition job focused on his closest rival and the die would be cast. This meant gates opened wide for the most vacuous and the entourage of vermin, hangers-on and sycophants that would ever occupy the Palace. He would not be the first. Joseph Estrada had already blazed the trail.

What followed was perhaps the most vicious example of a hollow demolition job totally devoid of substance, contrived from pure hate and prosecuted by the most duplicitous and unprincipled. Despite all these, the notorious 2010 “Villarroyo” Hate Campaign coupled with even emptier accusations of double appropriations along a C-5 property hurled against one presidential candidate had gained some traction among an ill-informed and uneducated electorate as pathetically immature and as undiscerning as ours is.

Economists, academicians and popular columnists jumped unto the demolition job juggernaut not because there was any substance to the smears but because they might lend credibility to the vacuum. Most were, however, out of their league and totally beyond their depth specially when they tackled issues of net worth and legality. But that did not matter where demolition jobs are concerned. Smear suffices.

From the time of the late Corazon Aquino to today’s sufferance, demolitions jobs have worked to keep good, qualified and competent people away from offices where the public benefits on a net basis.

There lies the saddest part. Look at current governance and see how we’ve ended up not only with a menagerie of crooks but also some of the most inept. A condition likely to perpetuate given the wrecking crew assembled in 2010 is exactly the same assembled today.

Survey screencap from Pulse Asia. Photos via Blog Watch. Some rights reserved.