The President of Malta – and I purposely do not say ‘George Abela’ – is on TVM right now, being quizzed along with a couple of others, by Norman Vella on TVHemm.
When I switched on, he was in the process of defending Darleen Zerafa, his wife’s paid personal assistant (she is a pharmacist, but works as the First Lady’s PA, God bless her) and his daughter-in-law Lydia’s sister.
First he heaped enormous praise on her, then he explained in great detail why he thought she should have received Community Chest Fund money to cover her course expenses in Italy, then he spoke in awe of her refusal to take the money.
When men, whoever they are, speak of a woman, whoever she is, in tones of the Beata Paola, sounding in awe of a paragon cross between the Virgin Mother, Florence Nightingale and the subject of a pre-Raphaelite painting, they plummet in my esteem – even if there was any to begin with – right through a hole in the floor.
Few men look as pathetic and foolish, whoever they are, as those who publicly and patently eat out of the hand of a manipulative woman, whoever she might be, who is transparently (to other women at least; men tend to be blind to these operations) playing the part of a goo-goo-eyed heroic saint for his benefit, when so many other people can see that they are led by the nose.
This is the President’s real problem at the moment: not that he offered that charity money to Darleen Zerafa, so much as that he appears to have fallen under the undue influence of a couple of soft-spoken manipulative sisters with a will of iron and an eye on the main chance, who have come into his sphere through the marriage of one of them to his son.
If Lydia Abela, Darleen’s sister, were a decent woman, she would have dissuaded her husband, the President’s son, from taking to the stage at a mass meeting in the electoral campaign, and still more would she have dissuaded him from insulting Lawrence Gonzi into a microphone before a crowd of tens of thousands.
She would have said to him, “Don’t do it. Lawrence Gonzi is the very man who behaved so well towards your father, made him President, and made it possible for us to baptise our child in the Verdala Castle chapel and leave a marble plaque marking the occasion in the castle grounds, for posterity. It would be ill-mannered, indecent and wrong to insult him in public, and why would you want to insult him anyway?”
That was her duty as his wife, but Lydia Abela is a Labour Party official and she has an agenda and her own career advancement to think of.
I think it might well have been Lydia Abela who instigated her husband to behave so badly in the first place, far from even trying to dissuade him from his own idea.
Those Zerafa sisters seem to have the presidential family under their thumb, what with one of them married to the president’s son and another one literally installed in the palace bedroom as lady-in-waiting (that’s what the first lady’s PA really is), and secretary to the Community Chest Fund board.
Now we have the President demeaning himself by appearing on an early evening television interview show to defend himself and Darleen.
It’s not the show itself that’s demeaning – it’s one of the best on television usually, but tonight it’s absolutely terrible, with none of the right questions asked and a complete whitewash job done on the President and Darleen.
No, it’s the fact that he debased his position by behaving like any old politician who goes on television in that context to justify himself and his actions.
Norman Vella should have grilled him over hot coals – there were so many questions to be asked, so many inconsistencies to be pointed out – but he didn’t. Let’s face it, when the President has got to the stage where he’s being grilled on television about his actions and intentions (even if the grilling is more of a mere white-toasting on setting number 1), it’s time to say goodbye.
This is our HEAD OF STATE we’re talking about. He’s the equivalent, for what it’s worth, of the Queen. Can you imagine the Queen sitting on a sofa on a BBC show defending her actions before Jeremy Paxman? That’s right, it just doesn’t happen.
George Abela has treated the presidency like a job, not a state role.
We had such high expectations of this president – I certainly was one who did – but instead of rising to the occasion he dragged the whole thing down with him, or allowed himself to be dragged down by his rabidly ambitious hangers-on.