Old school Twitter, with its strict character limit, would've solved plenty of problems here

No. 204 - Varistian Vaguebooking

Evarist Bartolo
Evarist Bartolo

What are we skinning? Former minister and Labour grandee Evarist Bartolo vaguebooking his way into a critique of the Robert Abela administration. 

Why are we skinning it? Because it begs quite a few questions... chief of them being: how effective are these parable-like missives now that Bartolo no longer holds office? 

But surely someone with his experience has a lot to offer, even in retirement? For sure, but something tells me he's kind of bought into his own hype there. 

How do you mean? His content tends to have a pseudo-poetic tenor that recalls a parish priest preaching to the flock from the pulpit. 

Fair enough, but there's a charm to that as well, surely? He's certainly leaned into the 'wise old man of the party' schtick, and we can either like or dislike that depending on our own personal degree of tolerance for that kind of stuff. 

I mean there's a generation (or two, or three) of Maltese people for whom this was the political norm. True. Mansplaining by buttoned-up lawyer-types was basically what we slotted in as a default image of the political landscape. 

That said, Bartolo is probably better read than a large chunk of them. This is probably true. Though there's another annoying strand to his latter-day posts that transcends their actual content. 

And what is that? Well, it comes down to timing, I suppose. There's a case to be made for them being too little, too late at this point in time... particularly the ones which offer up constructive critique of his former political home, the ruling Labour Party... 

What was the latest instalment of that series all about, then? Bartolo appeared to compare Robert Abela's administration to a rudderless ship in a Facebook post. (The 'appeared to' is not insignificant here; such is the nature of his vagebook-y parables). 

Why do you think he posted it? He elaborates on the central nautical image by claiming that others who could take up the captain's mantle do not currently have the faith of the crew... so perhaps it is also a dig at the Opposition, and a snapshot of the current reality we're all facing? 

He got pushback for it, I imagine? Yes, and in fact he published a follow-up post a few days later, offering a potted history of his long tenure with the Labour Party, and expressing mild frustration over the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" reality that accompanies his posts. 

Perhaps accepting damnation as default would be a good starting point towards sustained mature political discourse. Indeed. A thirst for constant applause is the root of all evil. 

Do say: "It is somewhat welcome to have a presence like Evarist Bartolo around in the public sphere: a former politician projecting an image of sober maturity in a country still riven with tribalist strife and powered by a race to the bottom. But the vaguebooking can get accidentally hilarious, and the core question remains: couldn't this criticism have been levelled when he still enjoyed a measure of direct political power?"

Don't say: "Old school Twitter, with its strict character limit, would've solved plenty of problems here."