‘The Transfiguration of Roberta Metsola’

Roberta Metsola now faces far more criticism (and altogether more savage, too) for her own performance of the same magical transformation act, than both Tonio, and Joe Borg put together

It’s been one hell of a week for the newly elected President of the European Parliament, hasn’t it? In fact, I’m beginning to half-believe all those myths and legends, that are now sprouting all around her persona like so many little (magic) mushrooms, everywhere...

For let’s face it: it’s not very often that any politician, of any description whatsoever (be they Maltese, or non-Maltese; Left-wing, or Right-wing; male, or female…. you name it) manages to do at least two completely impossible things: both in the space of one week.

So tell you what: let’s take these two ‘Metsola miracles’ in chronological order, shall we?

1. ‘Breaking the glass ceiling’

That’s right, folks: like any self-respecting Biblical miracle, this one was ‘prophesied in days of yore’. In fact, it was just last November that a certain prophet by the name of Matthew Xuereb (writing – presumably, on cuneiform tablets – in The Times) foretold that:

“She [Metsola] stands a chance of being the woman who breaks another glass ceiling in Brussels, making her the first woman to hold the post of EP president since 1999…”

And lo and behold! So it came to pass last Tuesday: when Roberta Metsola did indeed ‘break that glass ceiling’… by becoming the THIRD (3rd) woman to occupy that position, after Nicole Fontaine in 1999, and Simone Veil in… wait for it… 1979 (!!!)…

See what I mean? It almost reminds me of the ‘Miracle of the Virgin Birth’. Because let’s face it: ‘breaking a glass ceiling’ is a little bit like ‘losing your virginity’. Realistically speaking: it can only ever happen… ONCE.

And for pretty obvious reasons, too. For as soon as that hymen – sorry, ‘ceiling’ – is well and truly broken, and lies scattered in glittering fragments all over the floor… well, that’s it, really. No more ‘glass ceiling’ to even break any more, is there?

Unless, of course, you were to pick up all those broken shards, and somehow ‘superglue’ them together to create a whole new one (in which case, ‘breaking it again’ would hardly be an accomplishment worthy of writing a Psalm about, would it? It would probably just shatter spontaneously, at the slightest touch of a finger… …)

But, hey! Like I said at the beginning: there is no feat impossible enough for Roberta Metsola not to accomplish So not only did she manage to break a non-existent, and long-shattered, ‘Brussels glass ceiling’… but she also did this:

a) on her own birthday (which is – let’s face it – already a weird enough little coincidence, all unto itself);

and, b) exactly 41 years after Simone Veil had accomplished the same feat… in THE SAME YEAR THAT ROBERTA METSOLA HERSELF WAS BORN!!!

[Deep breath] Ok, sorry for all the ‘shouting’ there, but… I mean… how much more proof do we even need, that there is something truly miraculous in the unfolding of such manifestly portentous events?

That’s right up with there with the ‘Six-Tusked Elephant which foretold the birth of Siddharta Gautama’… (or ‘the Angel Gabriel announcing the conception of Jesus Christ’, if you prefer). There are prophecies within prophecies… passages of ancient texts, which seem to somehow foreshadow ‘events that have not yet to come to pass’…

… in a nutshell, it is almost as though Roberta Metsola’s ascension to the EP Presidency really had been ‘written in the stars’, all along. There really must be some kind of ‘’Divine Intervention’, at work behind the scenes: guiding her, step by step, towards her pre-ordained, glorious destiny…

And immediately, this provides an answer to the question that has been on everybody lips since last Tuesday: i.e., ‘Why did she wear white’?

Why, indeed! Obviously, it’s because she is predestined to continue her meteoric ascent… all the way to its natural conclusion (when Roberta Metsola becomes the first female Catholic Pope, no less…)

And I can see it all already: the white plumes of smoke, rising from the Vatican… followed by that inevitable solemn announcement, in Ecclesiastical Latin, that… ‘Habemus Metsolam’!

How’s that for a ‘glass ceiling’, huh? But hold on: let’s limit ourselves to only one miracle at a time…

… which, of course, lead us all crashingly to…

Miracle number two: ‘The Transfiguration’

OK: I’ll admit that this particular supernatural occurrence is somewhat slightly less impressive: for – no offence to Metsola herself, naturally – this time round, she can hardly claim to be the ‘first politician’ (and all the above provisos still apply: left, right, male, female, etc.) to have been compelled – by the Universal Law of Political Expediency – to perform such a drastic hand-brake ‘U-turn’, on such a gravelly subject as… ABORTION.

(That’s odd: there was a sudden thunderclap, out of nowhere, just as I wrote that last word… weird, huh?)

But back to the business at hand. Not only is Roberta Metsola herself something of a ‘late-comer’ to this game – it has, after all, been played by at least two former Maltese European Commissioners (one named Joe, and the other Tonio)… but her own performance was nowhere near as calamitous as that of some of her immediate predecessors.

For while Roberta Metsola did consistently vote against countless EP resolutions, specifically on the basis of (even fleeting) allusions to ‘female reproductive rights’… and while she did, repeatedly, indicate that abortion was a ‘red line’: for herself, for her party, for the Universe, and so on and so forth…

… I still don’t exactly recall any specific moments, when she tried to force her own pro-life views down the nation’s collective throat (by, for instance, proposing a Constitutional amendment, of the kind pushed forward so aggressively by Tonio Borg, in circa 2005/6…).

So once again: no offence intended to Metsola…  but on this occasion, her own achievement simply pales into insignificance, compared to Tonio’s astonishing metamorphosis in 2008… (dubbed by Arnold Cassola, at the time, as ‘The Strange Case of Dr Tonio and Mr Borg): when the same man who, just a few years previously, had crusaded against abortion with all the zeal of a hyperactive 15th century Chief Inquisitor… suddenly turned around, and said:

“That? Oh, don’t worry about all that. I’ve matured a lot since back then, you know: In fact, I’m a whole different person now. Oh yes: just like James Brown in ‘The Blues Brothers’: I have ‘seen the light’… I have ‘learnt the error of my ways’… I have ‘repented of my former sins’…and now, I’m on another Mission from God: this time, to see to it that all women’s rights are respected, equally, in every EU member state… Or ELSE! (Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! etc.)’

… for let’s face it: there is quite like the sudden prospect of a prestigious career change, to make people experience precisely that sort of spiritual ‘epiphany’. You know: the opening of the ‘Third eye’… the unleashing of the ‘Kundalini’... that moment of sudden, inexplicable enlightment, that came upon the Buddha so unawares (as he sat to rest under a Bo-tree, and all the rest of it).

But back to Tonio Borg, who – just like Metsola today, in fact – probably still doesn’t see the glaring contradiction, that exists between those two, utterly antithetical incarnations of the same person. (And I think I can guess why, too: because it’s a Divine Mystery, you see. ‘Two Persons in One Commissioner’… just like the Holy Trinity, in fact…)

But now that I think about it for a second: actually, I don’t recall a great many other people appreciating that contradiction at the time, either. In fact – with a few random exceptions such as Arnold Cassola, myself, and others – there wasn’t quite the same level of criticism being directed at Tonio Borg, back in 2008… as there is targeting Roberta Metsola today. (Note: and I can say the same for the former Fisheries commissioner Joe Borg, too… even if, like Roberta, he was never quite as ‘gung-ho’ about abortion as Tonio, was he?)

And I find all this all very curious, for two reasons. Not only was Borg’s capitulation, to the same universal expediency law, all that very much more dramatic than Roberta’s…  but the role he had risen to occupy – European Commissioner for Health, if you don’t mind – was altogether more relevant to this particular issue, than the Presidency of the European Parliament could ever possibly hope be.

Unlike Metsola today, Tonio Borg was in the very driver’s seat, no less, of the European Union’s health policies – which included (and still include) a commitment to provide for women’s basic reproductive rights. In other words, his job was to both formulate and implement policies, which would have a direct bearing on women – and everyone else, for that matter – across the length and breadth of the entire European Union.

And yet… Tonio Borg found himself facing far LESS pressure than Roberta Metsola, by the MEPs who ‘grilled’ him – though to be honest, it looked more like a ‘10-second spell in the microwave’, to me – before his appointment as health Commissioner;

And not only that, but… Roberta Metsola now faces far MORE criticism (and altogether more savage, too) for her own performance of the same magical transformation act, than both Tonio, and Joe Borg put together.

Why is that, I wonder. Hmmm… let’s see now. Maybe it’s because of the miracle that Roberta Metsola didn’t perform, this week? Maybe it’s because there is still, after all, a ‘glass ceiling’ in European politics, that has yet to be broken…