Monday, December 13, 2010

Fish kisses and shit knockins

The following letter is published in today's (Dec. 13th, 2010) Telegram:

On reasons and Williams

The questions remain: why did Danny Williams quit, and is he more popular than the two Js (Jesus and John Lennon) combined?

The consensus around the hockey rink, that great Newfoundland microcosm, is that archenemy Craig Westcott pushed Williams over the edge, the final prick to the then-premier’s

balloon-thin skin.

Williams could no more handle a jab than he could blow fish kisses to Fabian Manning across a crowded auditorium, and there’s no question that Williams, near the end, had reached the breaking point.

Less than three weeks prior to his Nov. 25 resignation, Williams “roared” at his rivals and the media during the annual premier’s dinner, according to a Globe and Mail headline.

Williams said he expected the months leading up to the October 2011 provincial election would be the lowest kind of “gutter” politics, and he obviously had had enough.

He ripped into Westcott for questioning his mental state. No doubt Westcott went too far, as is the long-time journalist’s own “bully” nature, and was due for a good public “shit knocking,” to borrow a phrase from Williams in his younger years.

Only the Williams administration waited 20 months before releasing the contents of Westcott’s email, revealing that the powers that be weren’t so much bothered by the letter, as the letter writer. Williams may have the roar of a lion, but his skin is more like that of a jellyfish.

That said, I see Danny Williams as the best premier — hands down — that Newfoundland and Labrador has ever had — because he left.

Williams didn’t drag out his welcome for 23 years like the power-poisoned Smallwood; he did his bit and walked away. Williams may be a sook — as evidenced by his sudden, eight-day notice, his failure to lock in a Lower Churchill deal before stepping down, and his tendency to lose it at a dissenting voice — but he was our sook, our champion.

As for whether Williams is more popular than the two Js combined, I would say yes — he is. His approval rating crested above 90 per cent, and he didn’t have to die on the cross or with two bullets in his back.

But in a place known for its Messiahs and Lion Kings, hopefully Danny Williams will be the last of a breed.

As he noted in his resignation speech, anyone can make a difference. Our lesson must be that one single Newfoundlander can never make all the difference.

Ryan Cleary

St. John’s

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