The Clean Hands Doctrine Revisited

(photo by Bill Mortley)

With the season of elections upon us, it can hardly be a surprise that the more desperate among the opposition party have been pushing with uncommon lack of shame the self-serving line that past performance in government should not be a determining factor at voting time. To be fair to the programmed flock, the current incumbents had also served up similar hash in 2006—with obvious success. (Somehow, John Compton had escaped the fall-out from his scandalous mid-nineties behavior with a young woman below the age
of consent. During a TALK appearance several hours before Polling
Day, this was how the UWP leader reacted to a detractor’s persistent reference to the undead issue: “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” In other words: Who are you, a fellow deflowerer of vestal virgins, to condemn me!
This week, it was Kenny Anthony’s turn to squeeze his own muddy size fourteens into the sacred sandals of Jesus, whose earlier-quoted admonition was originally spoken in defense of an accused helpless adulteress, not in defense of sinful self. Having decided yet again to postpone his promised response to earlier unanswered, barely veiled accusations of impropriety leveled at him during the last budget session of the House, Anthony chose at his party’s most recent rally to point accusatory fingers at his long-time favorite bêtes noir Richard Frederick, Rufus Bousquet and Guy Joseph. Who are they to accuse me, he said in effect, when their own hands are far from clean. Which reminds me of my recent statement that when opposing sides accuse each other in parliament of serious crimes including fraud, false pretense, outright stealing from the public purse, misleading the House and so on, what is the otherwise uninformed onlooker to conclude, if not that the parliament of Saint Lucia comprises self-confessed crooks on both sides of the table?
The allegations by the previously mentioned government MPs were made both in the presence of the leader of the opposition and in the presence of other opposition MPs when it seemed their leader had removed himself from the kitchen’s heat. It should also be noted that some of the allegations, while more detailed this time around, were hardly new. They were made two years earlier, similarly without response. Might the upcoming general elections have something to do with the opposition leader’s wild-eyed promise on Thursday evening to respond on TV over the weekend? But why only a scripted and uninterrupted televised address? Why not place himself at the disposal of reporters at a press conference? Indeed, one might well question the opposition leader’s silence when the allegations were initially made in the House and more recently? Could the answer be that he had used up his ammunition on the soft target Keith Mondesir by the time King’s killer SEALs showed up with their seemingly unstoppable artillery?  Bearing in mind the opposition leader’s penchant for televised addresses, why didn’t he take advantage of the tax-funded live coverage afforded him at the last budget session? Then again, it is unlikely that the promised show this weekend will also feature Anthony’s accusers.
But speaking of clean hands: two or three weeks ago, in an article entitled “Beware of Proverbs 19:5,” I referred to the so-called “clean hands doctrine.” No surprise that the usual pseudonymous campaigners on behalf of lesser evils rushed in where angels fear to tread. The following was the ovine consensus:
“Man, we doh want to hear about Rochamel. We doh want to hear nothing about no oil deal. Labour pay for that already. Nobody foolin’us this time. What we want to hear now is what the present government doin’ about the shops that are closing down and the youth that have no jobs and the price of cooking gas and petrol . . .”
Yeah, for real, as my friend likes to say. It’s only natural that some deliberately refuse to hear about their favorite party’s time in office. Or, for that matter, what the current opposition, if re-elected, proposes to do about the underscored universal problems, at least some of which can be ameliorated by personal behavior.
As for the “lesser evil” mindset, consider the following by Christopher Hitchens: “The argument for a lesser evil, then, has one sure effect. It guarantees that the choice will be between greater evils next time around.” Moreover: “To persist in saying that you didn’t vote wholeheartedly but merely as a confirmed lesser-evilist is as useful (and as original) as saying that you didn’t inhale.”
If I might borrow just one more time from Hitchens: “The whole
point about corruption in politics is that it can’t be done, or done properly, without partisan consensus.” Witness the most recent amendment to the Finance Act that now allows politicians open season on the Consolidated Fund.  Ah, but that too we will revisit before long.
As the man said: “You know what I know that you know that I know.” If in 2006 the statement made no sense to regular minds, five years later its truth is quite obvious—save for those with eyes but see not!

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