Deputy leader of the Nationalist Party Mario de Marco today gave a moving interview to Times Talk’s Herman Grech, where he opened up about his medical condition which resulted in half his face being paralysed. In the most heartbreaking part of the interview, he still held aspirations of becoming PN leader. He replied with honest resignation: “Is this the face of a potential leader?”
Dr de Marco may have thrown in the towel in terms of a future PN leadership bid, believing perhaps that people would not vote for a leader who now struggles to even smile. But his dignified interview was a sure reminder that his contribution to politics is far from being over. His face may have taken a knock, but he proved once again that his heart is in the right place and his manner will continue to be as gentlemanly as it has always been. Here are the moments in which his charisma and diplomacy shined through his new appearance.
1. He didn’t attack Daphne Caruana Galizia, despite her criticism of him
Dr de Marco could have lashed out at blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia for slamming him for absenting himself from politics. But he did not even mention her name. Instead, he took it in his stride and said the comments which drove him to speak out came from people who seemed to be missing his presence.
2. He explained his medical condition in detail
Though the jury is still out on how much politicians should have to reveal about their medical conditions, Dr de Marco spared no detail as he opened up about the procedures he underwent. He gave an honest account, without any hyperbole or self-pity. His courage will undoubtedly inspire others going through similar experiences.
3. He conveyed his vulnerability in a way men don’t often do
How refreshing it is to see a man talking candidly about his insecurities. His words should serve as a reminder that everybody is vulnerable to basic human emotions like self-doubt and fear. He may feel like his disfigurement excludes him from ever being a Nationalist Party leader, but the truth is that the PN would be lucky to have a leader with the ability to connect with the public the way he did in this interview.
4. He defended the right to privacy of the government’s chief of staff Keith Schembri
Even though the Prime Minister’s chief of staff is a key rival of the Nationalist Party, Dr de Marco was careful not to attack Mr Schembri who is himself dealing with medical issues. Dr de Marco said it was the government’s responsibility to say whether Mr Schembri was indisposed or not and his expression showed a sense of empathy that is refreshing to see in public life.
5. He gave a perfect assessment of controversial PN candidate Salvu Mallia
Asked about Salvu Mallia, Dr de Marco was honest about the fact that his candidature was a risk the results of which are still unknown. However, he urged against trying to change Mallia, and instead urged him to be more cautious about his battles, no doubt referring to his bizarre exchange with Helena Dalli and her husband Patrick.
6. He was gentlemanly about Simon Busuttil’s relative silence in his regard
PN leader Simon Busuttil came under fire last week for not defending Dr de Marco with the same fervour in which he defended Mallia. However, Dr de Marco was magnanimous in this regard too, saying that Busuttil did not intervene because he had no doubts about his position. He also refuted the idea that it should have been the party to talk about his perceived absence. And he stood clear by Busuttil’s message that the Labour government must be thrown out at the next election because of the untold damage he said it was causing the country.