AH, the plot thickens. It now seems that Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo knew about the U.S. senators’ trip to Guam after all. Bordallo not only knew about the stopover, she was even there at Andersen to greet the 15 senators in person.
But we must not blame Madeleine, who is still smarting from the Fena water issue that hounded her during her recent congressional address at the Legislature. I’m sure she had no ill intent. In fact, she would not have called the governor to innocently ask whether he would greet the senators if she was up to something.
We can’t blame the visiting senators either because they obviously informed Bordallo’s office about the stopover, naturally assuming that word about their trip would be passed along. Most likely, some subaltern messed up and failed to inform the governor’s office about the trip.
Of course, the governor has every right to get angry. He can’t afford NOT to get angry, given the growing sensitivity of Guam’s relationship with the U.S. military and the federal government.
Meanwhile, federal official Al Stayman’s subsequent attempts at damage control, as reported by PNC Washington correspondent Matt Kaye, did more harm than good because of the inconsistencies in his statement.
According to Stayman, the CODEL was on Guam “in the middle of the night” and was on its way to a war zone which was why the delegation wanted to keep it quiet. Of course, we know now, through news wire reports, that the delegation was in fact headed to China to discuss trade and finance issues with Chinese officials. Now, China is hardly a war zone, so why the secrecy?
The trip, in fact, seemed more of a junket, which is probably why they wanted to keep it a secret to avoid the wrath of U.S. taxpayers financing their trip.
The delegate’s office also contradicted the “middle of the night” time frame given by Stayman, stating that Bordallo was present for the delegation’s arrival at "around noon," and that she inadvertently informed the governor’s office about the CODEL’s trip when she made her call “earlier” that day.
Now, if true, this gives us an insight into how Governor Calvo’s mind works. It’s true that knowing about the delegation’s arrival on the day itself is enough to be riled up about. Nobody wants to be invited at the very last minute.
Still, if Calvo had really wanted to, he could still have gone to Andersen because there was enough time for him to rush and meet the visiting senators. But Calvo’s political mind was working overtime and the governor probably realized that he could make better use of this unintentional oversight.
Think about it. Just recently, the governor was being castigated as a lapdog of the federal government for approving the controversial Programmatic Agreement.
But now, with all the outrage expressed by the governor over the “snub” by the 15 senators, Calvo is now basking in his new image as a fighter for Guam’s self-determination and as an independent leader who has the balls to confront the powers-that-be in Washington.
Even his opponents in the Legislature have made a beeline to get in on the bandwagon and denounce the snub, so that the “nationalist” aura can reflect upon them too.
There was even a press conference called immediately after the CODEL departed so that the governor can express his outrage over the snub, with Calvo’s sentiments captured for posterity by Variety photographer Keith Sablan in his now classic shot of a livid Calvo.
The governor has not only gained political points on Guam, he may have made some points with the federal government, too.
U.S. leaders would now know that Calvo is not a man to trifle with. And that may be a good thing, with so many issues with the buildup that still need to be negotiated with the federal government.
In any case, this recent episode has again demonstrated the governor’s political skill, which seems to be getting better over time.