The 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination contest was one for the ages. The two finalists were bound to make history: a Hillary victory would have marked the first time a woman was declared the nominee of a major party and of course, Obama became the first African American nominee by a major party and subsequently the first president of color.
But to get there, the nomination became a nail-biter. Hillary had won all the big primary states while Obama, leveraging off on his community organizing background, swept all the caucus states. And with that, the focus shifted to the delegate math to the magic number needed to clinch the nomination.
Hillary had the majority of delegates as per the electoral contest while Obama, owing to his strong showing in the caucus states and being a fresh face, attracted the “super-delegates,” a coveted class of party members that include party officials and elected leaders who are free to endorse a candidate of their choice thereby boosting his or her numerical advantage in terms of the delegate math. In 2008, sensing anxiety from the super-delegates, the Clinton campaign embarked on a strategy to woo the super-delegates onto their side by painting Obama as a risky choice due to his color and lack of experience.
That Miguna had the chutzpah to ‘swear’ in Raila is in itself an act of bravery in a country where dissenting voices disappear in a dime.
The man charged with the responsibility of wooing and sweet-talking super-delegates was a party official and longtime Clinton backer Harold Ickes, a man known for his thuggish tone and rough demeanor. Ickes’ brash tone and comportment became an instant turn-off and a huge liability that led to more defections and in the end, the political exodus from the Clinton camp to Obama camp was too much for even the sworn loyalists to stomach. It was game over and with the infinite number of super-delegates marching to his side, Senator Obama only needed a modest showing in the Minnesota primaries to declare himself the nominee! That was all she wrote.
That Miguna had the chutzpah to ‘swear’ in Raila is in itself an act of bravery in a country where dissenting voices disappear in a dime. Miguna’s courageous act endeared him to the NASA cavalcade that just a couple of years ago, were baying for his blood after he penciled a memoir in which he excoriated his former boss.
All the rhetoric that Miguna inveighed on the text were forgotten as a lyrically drunk fan base drank the NRM Kool-aid.
Then came the arrest, detention, suspension of habeas corpus and eventual deportation. In those five harrowing days, NASA adherents from the Luo community confessed their love for the ‘General’ and unanimously endorsed him as the community’s heir apparent to the Enigma.
To the masses, the five days of torture was all it took to occupy the high table alongside RAO.
But how long will the political paramour last? First of all, a day before his dramatic arrest, Miguna taunted and humiliated the officialdom on live television. The barrister dared the government to arrest him and taunted those in power almost as if he was soliciting a visit by the state operatives.
And they obliged.
While his arrest and the ever-rotating rumour mill that surrounded his arrest and deportation would be a political goldmine for a disciplined political operative or politician, Miguna’s proclivity to-shoot first-and-ask-questions-later style is hardly smart. And in true to form, he remains the only Uhuru Park guest to actually invite the police to arrest him. And they did. His co-actors are still walking scot-free in Nairobi and its environs.
A man thus temperamentally fragile has no capacity to harness the instant political mileage that he acquired from the deportation drama.
A man whose abrasive demeanor and style led to the fallout between him and the most high profile figure who made him a household name and led him into penning a scathing memoir against the man who catapulted him to a household status is not about to morph into a more measured individual. This is a man whose wits and wisdom have robbed him of any trusting partners in politics and in the legal profession. He has no known legal or political confidants.
There is no disputing his academic prowess and intelligence but those two alone do not automatically translate into political smarts. After all, as an advisor to the PM of Kenya, the bravado that emanated from his side led to a brisk stiff arm that saw him resort to public spats with every Tom, Dick, and Harry. A move that further widened the chasms between him and his boss.
And when it came time to run for the most coveted gubernatorial seat in the country, Miguna ran in typical Miguna style: rubbishing his competitors in derisive terms and ended up facing the voters with no running mate because in vintage Miguna style, it was his way or the highway, a move that frustrated his first running mate who was forced to flee way before the main event. The second number two called a press conference and announced that it was over, leaving Miguna as an army of one, in a race that the constitution dictates that a ticket must be paired.
A man thus temperamentally fragile has no capacity to harness the instant political mileage that he acquired from the deportation drama. The NASA supporters who were shouting themselves hoarse over this issue must evaluate the man on the facts and the truth will come out. And if you think I am playing then just look around you and you will notice that the political hubbub that ensued after his deportation is gone. People are back to business as usual and Miguna is still cooling his heels in Canada.
Even if he comes back by way of a court order, his demeanor and modus operandi will not change. He is still the man who chose to pen a memoir about the man who made him who he is today, at least politically speaking. And he is still the man who has a knack for burning bridges left, right and centre.
Mike Dande is a political analyst based in Washington DC