TUMBY BAY - I’ve got an elderly aunt in Indiana, USA, who thinks Donald Trump is wonderful. She was a volunteer in his 2016 election campaign and is thinking about doing it again this year.
My aunt thinks Barack Obama was the worst president that America ever had and that the Democrats are socialists who will destroy America.
She is one of millions of Americans who don’t realise what the rest of the world thinks about their buffoon president.
Sometimes you have to stand back to see a situation clearly. That’s why a view from a distance often imparts a clarity not available to those up close and involved.
I think a lot of people outside Papua New Guinea are still making up their minds about prime minister James Marape.
There is a lot to ponder.
On the face of it he seems to be a genuine reformer. How much of this is spin and how much is real is hard to tell. He was, after all, a senior minister in the disastrous O’Neill government.
That association raises quite a few questions. If he knew what O’Neill was doing why didn’t he speak up?
He now says he disagreed with O’Neill on several matters. Then why didn’t he resign from the People’s National Congress government and join the Opposition?
If he had the same personal convictions he espouses now, why didn’t he act on them when it truly mattered? Why did he let O’Neill get away with what he did?
People inside Papua New Guinean say their politics are complex. From the outside they don’t seem complex at all. With their emphasis on alliances, numbers and personal gain they simply appear chaotic, illogical and, most of all, terribly corrupt.
In that sort of environment maybe Marape, in government under a strong ruthless leader, realised he could do very little. Maybe he decided to wait until he was in a position of greater power.
Or maybe he was enjoying the spoils and only decided to act when he decided O’Neill had burnt up his political capital and was doomed.
Despite what my American aunt thinks, Barack Obama was a good president. Or at least he tried to be a good president. It was a sad reality that just about every good thing he tried to do was nobbled by the Republicans and vested interests.
Is the slow progress that has started to dog James Marape similar to what happened to Barack Obama? Are the vested interests within parliament and in the corporate world outside conspiring to limit his effectiveness?
It’s hard to know but there are a few tell-tale signs worth noting.
One example is of interest to PNG Attitude readers. That is Marape’s apparent indifference to the plight of writers in Papua New Guinea.
Does he simply not care? Is it just because he is too busy with what he sees as more important matters? Is it because he is acting on poor advice from his advisors and spin doctors?
Fixing the dreadful mess left by Peter O’Neill is a monumental job after all.
But then again, Marape has been seen supporting apparently frivolous things like fashion parades. How can he justify supporting fashion designers but not writers?
PNG watchers will remember the enthusiasm that greeted Peter O’Neill when he ousted Michael Somare.
There was a strong hope that O’Neill was going to end the years of corruption under Somare and make Papua New Guinea great.
Are all the positive noises that James Marape made when he ousted O’Neill just more of the same empty rhetoric?
Marape booted out many of O’Neill’s most corrupt ministers but he also retained quite a few of them. And corrupt public servants as well. What sort of power have they got over him?
Along with the usual gaggle of rats abandoning the sinking O’Neill ship, Marape has also managed to pull in members of the Opposition to work for him, including quite a few who are very capable and have demonstrated high political ideals.
Do they actually believe in him or are they hoping to change things for the better from inside rather than outside? Or has he offered them something they can’t refuse?
I don’t know whether my poor deluded aunt in Indiana would like James Marape or not.
Then again, I’m not sure I want to ask her.