Politics of Friday, 9 November 2012

Source: Daily Post

Veep Refuses To Descend Into The Gutters With Bawumia

There is no doubt in our mind that in terms of content, Vice-President Amissah-Arthur showed at the IEA Vice-Presidential Debate that he had no equals among the Vice-Presidential candidates.

He remained focus throughout thedebate and looked every bit the Vice-President that he is. That he went into the debate with the odds against him goes without saying. Every incumbent goes into a debate knowing very well that he cannot take liberties as his co-debater or debaters can do. This was re-elected President Barack Obama’s burden when he went into the first debate with his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. At the end, many complained that this was not the Barak Obama that they knew. Even in the subsequent debates which it is agreed he won, the Obama the world saw was a far cry from the Obama they knew in 2008. The common sense here is obvious; being a challenger is different from being an incumbent!

In the first IEA Presidential debate at Tamale, President John Mahama also had this burden on him. He was the incumbent and while debating his co-debaters, he could not take liberties the way they could.

He was the President, the others were not. President Mahama, for example, could not take liberties the way Akufo-Addo did, roaring with laughter every now and then as if he and the others were in a beer bar quaffing bear and having a good laugh over some cheap joke.

President Mahama was the President. The world was watching him. Thanks to DSTV and the internet, the international community was watching. He had to show he was the President, debate or no debate.

Vice-President Amissah-Arthur faced the same conundrum when he mounted the podium to face his co-debaters at Takoradi on Tuesday. The only one close to his intellectual capacity was Dr. Mahamadou Bawumia. So, obviously, the Vice-President’s handlers decided that he must not tango with Bawumia for obvious reasons; people ought to know the difference!

Bawumia, like his boss, Akufo-Addo, was going to go for showmanship. He did. He was going to lie through his teeth throughout the debate like his boss did in Tamale. He did. So, what was Vice- President Amissah-Arthur expected to do?; go down into the gutter with Bawumia, who, more or less, is a dead goat so has nothing to fear.

Amissah-Arthur could not dare make this mistake just as Obama and John Mahama did not do during their first Presidential debates.

It was in pursuit of the game-plan not to descend into the gutters where Bawumia would feel comfortable that obviously saw the Vice-President refusing to take advantage of the three opportunities he has to rebut Bawumia’s lies. Whether this game plan was the best or not is another matter but it is instructive to note that those who prepared the Vice-President for the debate and who, in their wisdom, decided that he must not go into the gutter with Bawumia are very experienced politicians from the NDC fold.

While we think that it is not prudent to mention their names, there is no doubt that these ladies and gentlemen are among the best there is to do that job for the NDC. Those who prepared the Vice-President, we are aware, include a top-notch NDC leading light who was also a leading light of the PNDC.  It used to be said that his intelligence is equal to all the intelligence of university dons at the time. That he has the gab is an understatement. His oratory prowess is second only to that of Mark Anthony of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar fame.

Then also is that lady who is perhaps the best there is when it comes to public relations in Ghana. She herself is the wife of another NDC leading light, a whizz kid who used to bamboozle and expose NPP braggarts with his sheer intelligence.

So, Amissah-Arthur was prepared by the best there is within the NDC for the debate. And we believe, that with the burden of incumbency on him, he did not disappoint.

Yes, he did not go for the razzmatazz of showmanship as Bawumia did. He went for content. Debates are intellectual exercises. Let those who therefore think they have the intellectual capacity now place down the answers given by Amissah-Arthur and Bawumia, analyze them and see who was really answering the question.

As we have already asserted, Bawumia blew a lot of hot air. He was full of front, lacking substance – if this is what wins a debate, then he won.

By the way, while we are at it, which of the aspirants had the questions leaked to him and the answers therefore carefully written on green paper for him which he rattled through?

Seriously, the IEA debate will be more exciting if debaters are not allowed to take whatever documents they want to take to the podium if they so-wish. Or, is the decision to allow debaters take whatever materials they want to take onto the stage a ploy to ensure that the usual suspects can read the prepared answers to questions leaked to him?