EDITORIAL – Bush arrest: When ‘no comment’ is the best comment

Three weeks after he was arrested at a Florida casino, House Speaker McKeeva Bush’s name has been cleared. This is welcome news, of course, for Mr. Bush and his family — but also for our country.

And yet, we are certain there are those among us who are not cheering, who were hoping for a different outcome. We speak, of course, of those who, without any evidence whatsoever, were quick to condemn and quick to convict Mr. Bush in the so-called court of public opinion.

This is never an attractive personality trait, but it is even more ugly when done under the cowardly cloak of anonymity, as it was by scores of correspondents who posted hateful messages about Mr. Bush on a local website.

Even worse, as Mr. Bush steadfastly maintained his innocence, opportunistic opposition members in the Legislative Assembly issued an unctuous and sanctimonious statement “concerning the international embarrassment” Mr. Bush’s arrest brought upon Cayman. In their pious proclamation, they called on Premier Alden McLaughlin’s ruling government to “take the necessary action to restore dignity, honour and prestige to the position of the Speaker.”

Whatever “the necessary action” was to be, the opposition members either did not have the vertebrae, or the verbiage, to state directly and declaratively what they were implying: that Mr. Bush should be removed from the Speakership.

Of course, as Mr. Bush’s vindication has shown, such a premature move would have been as unwarranted as it would have been unjust. Further, it would have thrown into turmoil our delicately balanced coalition government — the obvious objective, at least to our eyes, of the opposition members.

Contrast their behavior with that of Premier Alden McLaughlin, who made a deliberate decision to refrain from immediate public comment.

The premier’s discretion was dignified, welcome and warranted. There are times that call for thoughtful response, and those that call for thoughtful non-response.

In a statement released last Friday, Mr. Bush said, “To my detractors, my only hope is that you never have to go through what me and my family have over the past few weeks, but if you do, hopefully those around you will not rush to judgment and say or write disparaging comments before the truth prevails.”

Which brings us to an additional observation, namely how long it takes for the “truth to prevail.” We must recognize the efficiency, openness and professionalism of Florida police and prosecutors, who were forthcoming with the information they could share, responded readily to media inquiries and made available relevant public documents. Government transparency and the swift execution of justice do much to build public trust.

What if, as we so often see in Cayman, Mr. Bush’s case had dragged on interminably? What if Mr. Bush had to perform his duties as Speaker under a cloud of suspicion, with no knowledge about when — or if — he might ever be charged or ultimately exonerated?

For someone arrested but not charged, as was the case with Mr. Bush, having to wait three weeks for vindication must seem like a lifetime.

As so many are forced to do in Cayman, imagine waiting for months — or even years.

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