Underdog Consultancy does have a nice ring to it

No. 195 - Underdog Whistles

Joseph Muscat
Joseph Muscat

What are we skinning? Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's interview with former One broadcaster Manuel Cuschieri last Friday.

Why are we skinning it? Because if nothing else, it stands as a crystal-clear reminder of Muscat's gift of the gab and political savvy.

What did he say, then? He undermined the accusations against him in several ways, aided along by his friendly interlocutor (possibly his Number One fan).

Anything of note to emerge? There's not too many column inches available for us here, but Muscat's positioning as 'the underdog' in all of this bears some analysis.

Why is that? Well, for someone who led the charge of a massive revamp of the Malta Labour Party into a PL that raked in a super-majority built on the back of an economic boom whose provenance turned out to possibly have been erected on somewhat shady foundations, his alleged 'underdog' status could be in dispute.

Maybe he's a bit like Chris Rock, who in his last standup show described how he's rich, but "identifies as poor". That would at least be a self-deprecating approach to that particular brand of identity politics.

How did he actually frame it, though? Oh, he played the 'us and them' game by invoking the memory of Labour PMs past: "Mintoff, son of a cook, Alfred Sant, son of a civil servant"... with Muscat slotting in his lucrative fireworks importer dad as a mere 'salesman'.

So it's hardscrabble Labourites vs toga-wearing, mustache twirling Nationalist elite? Hey, if it works it works.

Did it work, though? History has proven time and time again that Muscat can foment a crowd. So time will tell.

Could this perhaps be the start of a one-man independent candidate who could actually go places in Malta, politically? Yeah well, Zaren Tal-Ajkla Muscat ain't. The only question is: how much of his remaining political clout would be enough to power a fresh start?

It speaks to the power of a strongly-asserted narrative. And, well, to the power of power: specifically, economic power. Muscat's successes can't be so easily brushed off, and will remain etched into the nation's psyche for just as long as his many failures.

The fact that it's all happening on Smash TV kind of undermines it though, right? Well, he did say he's an underdog after all.

Do say: "Joseph Muscat certainly has a right to demand a magistrate's recusal, and he may certainly avail himself of his freedom of speech to make his case as he sees fit. Equally, however, the public at large may assess such claims with the necessary hindsight provided by Muscat's historical -- and in many ways, truly historic, for better or for worse -- political trajectory."

Don't say: "Underdog Consultancy does have a nice ring to it."