Who Are Raila’s Surrogates and Where Are They?
“When they go low, we go high”
“He ‘only’ hits back when he is attacked.”
The two quotes are polar opposite of the 2016 US Elections. The top quote is from Michelle Obama’s keynote address (in support of Hillary Clinton) during the Democratic Convention and the bottom one is a variation/amalgamation of responses from Donald Trump’s surrogates when asked why America’s 45th President is so “un-presidential” in some of his responses and comments.
The conventional wisdom in most political campaigns is that the principals, in Kenya’s case Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta, tend to stay above the fray and let their respective surrogates i.e. proxies or stand-ins do the heavy lifting i.e. fire back when attacked and/or address the unsavory mundane day-to-day campaign stuff.
The principals for their part are supposed to avoid wrestling in the mud or spewing Millie Mabona/Moses Kuria-like invectives, focusing instead on the “big-picture” thematic, aspirational AND inspirational campaign-related topics. By “getting into the weeds” i.e. the nuts and bolts of campaigning, any principal runs the risk of pulling a DJT and coming across as uninformed, contradictory and outright untrustworthy! This is particularly true if the principal abhors the hard work of campaigning AND governing i.e. reading/studying briefing files; policy papers and intelligence briefs etc.
It thus follows that by asking his supporters to “only vote for NASA-affiliated parties”, Raila not only drags himself into a wonkish discussion that detracts away from the fundamental (thematic) issue of the campaign – A Hungry Voter is an Angry Voter – RAO reinforces the narrative that he is an “autocratic” and “authoritarian” leader who dictates to his supporters what they should do!
Kenyans will remember Uhuru Kenyatta’s public spat with Mombasa County Gov. Hassan Joho about two months ago. Long story short: Kamwana had to back off because he looked petty and unhinged. In the process, Gov. Joho raised his profile and attained national prominence for “sticking up for the good people of Mombasa County against the corrupt scion of the Kenyatta family that owns huge tracts of arable land in the region.”
Similarly, Kenyans also remember the “summit meeting” between Mr. Kenyatta’s mom – Mama Ngina Kenyatta – and his mentor – Mzee Arap Moi – back in January of this year. While details of the meeting were never divulged, the calm that settled over the Uhuru/Ruto/Moi axis was unmistakable. The online publication The Star offered the view that while “neither…..side (was) willing to give official details of the meeting, it is believed that the two may have talked about the political future of the country ahead of the August 8 election…..(and)…..how their two sons – Uhuru and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi – can work together more closely.”
Moses Kuria’s (Gatundu South MP) role in Uhuru Kenyatta’s (political) solar system as the quintessential “attack dog” is legendary. The crass, oftentimes incoherent but consistent toady (of UK) is almost giddy at the role. The funny thing is that when faced with equally crass and brusque pushback, the “tough” Kuria slinks away incoherently muttering unprintable eff-bombs like he recently did!
So besides Hassan Joho, who else speaks for Raila on mundane matters such as the wonkish debate over the role of independent candidates or the gaffe that had his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka as a presidential candidate for the Wiper Party?