Disgraced. That’s the first thing they have in common. Donald, Boris and Joseph.
For a while, they led their respective countries. For a while, they sold a dream of making their nations great.
They hypnotised their followers into believing that they would fulfil their dreams and aspirations with the kind of skill that would make snake-oil merchants blush.
Then, as fast as their comets had risen in the constellation of the greats, came the rapid downfall into disgrace.
A sense of impunity, invincibility. That’s the second thing they have in common. In their own way, they felt that they had become invincible, untouchable.
They believed their own lies, the lies they had sold to get to the highest peak possible within their own back yard. As they did so, they betrayed the very principle they had claimed to uphold and revive. They dismantled institutions and public faith in them.
Third. A sense of self-importance bordering on a messiah complex. Presidential and prime ministerial positions were mere formalities that disguised imperial undertones.
Not for them the constrictions of the law and custom. Not for them the minutiae of the balance and separation of powers in representative democracy.
They might never have uttered the words, but they did not fall far short of L’Etat c’est moi (I am the State). Après nous, le deluge (After us, the flood). Even after their cataclysmic fall in the style of Icarus, they find it hard to accept the idea that the world could go on without them.
Irrationality. Fourth, underneath the mask of a calm, rational persona in control of its destiny, we discover the irrational thoughts of a cornered rat. Spitting and gritting its teeth at its nemesis, the cornered rat speaks in the language of conspiracies, where the whole world is out to get them.
The cornered rat is indignant that its contribution to the world has gone unappreciated and eclipsed by what it considers peccadillos of the mildest kind.
How Boris Johnson howled. In his resignation statement, he fired salvo upon salvo on the Privileges Committee. The wounded lion cared little that his angry rant would undermine the most sacred of British institutions.
“Their purpose from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts. This is the very definition of a kangaroo court. They [members of the Committee] should have recused themselves,” Boris said.
There it is. Persecution. Conspiracy. Justice no longer works if justice has Boris in its sights.
How Donald Trump wailed. “The ridiculous and baseless indictment of me by the Biden administration’s weaponized Department of Injustice will go down as among the most horrific abuses of power in the history of our country. (…) This vicious persecution is a travesty of justice.”
The Justice Department, according to the disgraced former president, was “a sick nest of people that need to be cleaned out.” The federal probe of handling sensitive documents was “a witch hunt”. Donald makes no bones of dismantling the system. Justice is dead.
How Joseph Muscat lamented. Under friendly fire in an interview with propagandist Emanuel Cuschieri, Muscat described a magisterial inquiry as a “dirty game”.
He threatened to sue “those who have fomented it”. His detractors were apparently “freemasons” well connected to members of the judiciary.
Ironically this was “his” judiciary, riddled with political appointees of clear Labour affiliation. Still, the cornered disgraced politician wants a recusal. His justification for the request is bias by relation – risible at worst but dangerously hypocritical coming from the very mouth of the politician who redefined meritocracy in judicial circles.
The game should be up for the three of them. Should the institutions manage to do the full course in each and every case, then we could have restored hope in the proper functioning of blind justice.
The demise of their respective political careers could also be an important milestone marking the end of the kind of populist politics that has ravaged representative democracy in the past decade or so.
Do not, however, underestimate the danger of cornered rats.