The PN’s effort to portray the leader of the Opposition as an unprepared, immature boy is on old, stale gimmick.
The main thrust of the PN's current strategy is to divert attention from its internal crisis by blaming it on Labour. Instead, it could have put on a brave face and faced the music. It could have effortlessly succeeded to bury some of its troubles simply because people are too busy enjoying summer.
The latest PN rhetoric claims that Dr Joseph Muscat is an infantile "loudmouth". In spite of denials from the PL, they keep asserting that in 2008 Muscat had an informal chat with Dr Simon Busuttil en route to Brussels where Muscat inadvertently revealed that the MLP intended to turn the Mistra disco debacle into a devastating campaign issue.
Dr Paul Borg Olivier and company are implying that Dr Muscat's alleged carelessness jeopardised his own party's electoral prospects. The PN keeps reiterating that it was Dr Muscat's warning which made it possible for them "prepare" a strong rebuttal.
Frankly, all the hype around this issue raises more questions than answers: one question is, how did the PN prepare itself? Does Dr Borg Olivier mean that they had ample time to spin the web and fabricate better lies on the eve of the 2008 election? Were the methods used by PN legitimate and if not, does the end really justify the means? It surely was not Dr Muscat who was ultimately responsible for coaching Dr Pullicino Orlando and for procuring his fake press card at Television House.
Now that the PN's methods were revealed, shouldn't the party be engaging into some serious soul-searching to redeem our trust? Since the truth has somehow revealed itself, resorting to further below-the-belt tactics will backfire and will further damage the reputation of perpetrators.
To me it is a mystery why key PN exponents keep employing boring tactics like repeating ad nauseam a story that will only achieve one outcome, i.e. confuse and alienate public opinion.
One must add that the PN's effort to portray the leader of the Opposition as an unprepared, immature boy is on old, stale gimmick. Those of you who were raised in the 1980s may remember how the MLP then kept portraying Dr Eddie Fenech Adami as a toddler in diapers in its political newspaper cartoons, simply because in comparison to Dom Mintoff he did not yet have prime ministerial experience.
Political communication has made great strides ahead since the days of the crass, humorist political newspaper Ix-Xewka. One would expect better from a younger and newer class of experts.
An image of 'baby Joseph' is less likely to stick now that people were alerted to the way the PN operates behind-the-scenes. Whether we like them of not, most of us believe the tell-all accounts of Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, EU Commissioner John Dalli and Dr Franco Debono. It is only cracks within political elites that enable us to open a window on party war-rooms and to understand some of their internal operations.
One last point. Next time you board an airplane, I suggest you reserve a seat at maximum distance from any politician. Since I have a mouth and I tend to use it, turning mute for the duration of a whole trip is unlikely and most of my onboard conversations are likely to be mere paroli. Hence, I do not wish to lose any sleep worrying about innocent doe-eyed persons in the next seat, who may eventually misinterpret or selectively quote me whenever it suits them.
Dr Carmen Sammut is a media studies academic and chairperson of Labour Party think-tank Ideat.