How demolition jobs can backfire
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-01-26
It was Napoleon Bonaparte to whom this line was attributed: “Do not interrupt your opponent while he is making a mistake.” Napoleon was right because an opponent’s grievous tactical error is capable of inflicting worse damage than artillery.

In the 2010 presidential campaign, the rivals of Senator Noynoy Aquino have committed many blunders and some of these are now delivering added benefits for the dominant presidential candidate. One of these points of attack they have taken against Aquino is the attempt to belittle his capabilities to govern as president.

Likely the result of panic reactions over the way Aquino has been dominating the SWS and Pulse Asia polls since October — they are desperately trying to apply ‘shock and awe’ tactics. It is shocking and awful if what they are saying happens to be true and not a half truth or a lie.

In their underground propaganda, Aquino has been painted as autistic, a killer, a fake and all sorts of unsavory smears which they cannot say to his face. On their above ground propaganda, they impose so many standards on Aquino which they themselves cannot meet. And they slyly try to belittle his ability to govern as president.

But the problem with resorting to lies is that it is the easiest to expose. A lie can backfire and even render the opposite effect. Instead of eroding Aquino’s base, the exposed lie can strengthen it and even add to it. A worse effect is — the liar adds to his credibility woes.
Thus, when Aquino joined several of the presidential debates, those who were affected by rumors that he is “abno (a local term for intellectually challenged)” were surprised with what they saw. In the ANC Harapan Forum last year, the panel of professionals felt that Aquino was among the top three. In the online Harapan poll, he topped.

Last Thursday, when Aquino faced the Makati Business Club (MBC) at the Rigodon Ballroom of the Manila Peninsula, the demolition job on Aquino’s competence created the exact opposite effect. His speech drew seven applause interruptions and a standing ovation at the end. His answers to questions during the open forum that followed the speech all the more impressed the businessmen and professionals present.

Peter Wallace, President of the Wallace Business Forum, also a critic a presidential candidate would not want to get into his hair, typified the MBC reaction to Aquino’s speech and open forum answers. Wallace was quoted as saying that he was “pleasantly surprised” with how Aquino answered the businessmen’s questions.

Wallace was further quoted as saying: “He showed depth of knowledge and went beyond trite statements. He gave frank, specific answers and he didn’t evade questions. I was quite impressed with the way he handled himself.”

Wallace did not exactly agree with all of Aquino’s plans, specifically that of not creating new taxes. Wallace believes that imposing the so-called Sin Taxes on cigarettes and alcohol would be a good move. That point of disagreement would show that Wallace is not one of those diehard Coryistas — which all the more accentuates his positive remarks about Aquino.

What is very important for Aquino’s cause is that the MBC is one of the most difficult audiences to impress or please. These are big entrepreneurs and top level managers who can easily spot a fake from a genuine.

Many of the MBC members are CEOs. They’re used to making big, bold decisions and can sense if a person has the goods to be Chief Executive of the land. When they decide on whom to support for president, they do so on the basis of who is best for the economy and for business and not on the basis of personalities or emotion.

In the 1986 Snap Presidential Elections, the MBC supported Cory Aquino. The MBC support for Cory Aquino was not because they were her ‘emotional and screaming’ fans but because she represented the fight against Marcos Crony Capitalism.

After Senator Aquino passed the MBC scrutiny with flying colors, it will be idiotic now for any of his rivals to still assert that he isn’t capable to govern as president. They can shift perhaps to asserting they’re better qualified than Aquino but that is going to be hard to prove and can again backfire.

Will anyone believe them? That remains to be seen. It is not easy to say “I am a better tenor” than someone who just made Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Andrea Bocceli stand in rapture after hearing a flawless rendition of Nessum Dorma that proved to be better than Luciano Pavarotti’s.

That falsehood about Aquino lacking the capability to govern clearly backfired during the MBC forum. By lowering expectations, the impact was enhanced when the real deal was demonstrated and it drastically countered the picture Aquino’s rivals tried to paint. The result became more positive that what it could have been if the falsehood wasn’t peddled at all.

When Jesus Christ said “love your enemies” in the four Gospels — there may have been a practical aspect to that other than just the spiritual. In His infinite wisdom, the Lord must have seen that your enemies can do more good for you than your friends.

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