“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” – Churchill
Madame Secretary is an American TV series about how US Foreign Policy is helmed by the US State Secretary (PH equivalent of DFA Secretary).
What should be the appropriate response to their portrayal of Duterte? One that represents how Duterte would approach it. Based upon my observation of Duterte – online and my personal meeting with him, he is not the kind of leader who cares about appearances. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, Duterte is the Diogenes of politics.
Duterte isn’t about protecting his “image.” He’s more about doing his duty to the best of his ability given the constraints of leadership. He chooses his battle well. I don’t think it would be helpful that the Philippines would go on protest the portrayal. Duterte would most probably approach it just like how he responded to Agot Isidro’s psychopath rant, respond with the dicta associated with Voltaire: I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. No need to challenge the portrayal.
The communication strategy that fits Duterte must not be about defending him, akin to how the PR of Leni does it. Accept that Duterte is a brown collar worker of democracy. There’s dirty work to be done to make democracy work and make a political community flourish and thrive.
The communication strategy must not play into the hypocritical moralpolitik game of the adversary but must seek to question the very game the other party is playing. And that entails freeing the necessary from the suffocating and limiting gaze of what’s appropriate. What must be communicated to the world should be about the progress of Duterte’s action as he fulfils his duty not just to this generation but to the generation that would come after us. It must be about bringing into light the method behind what the world perceives as merely madness. His character flaws don’t need defending, what must the world pay attention to is his skilful execution of statecraft. And the communication strategy must demonstrate how and why he does it and the progress and factual results of his practice of statecraft.
When King Alexander asked Diogenes what he could do for the philosopher, Diogenes said: Please step back a bit, as you’re blocking the sun.