Apparently, America has a strong export capability in political analysis, even in analysts with a track record of scandal. A Kenyan presidential candidate hired Dick Morris to help win the election, even though Morris has no history in Kenyan politics, and traveled to the country on a tourist visa. No problem, says his new boss — Morris works for free:
Political consultant Dick Morris, who rose to prominence as a key adviser for President Bill Clinton and then fell from grace after a scandal involving a prostitute, has surfaced as a political consultant in an unlikely place — Kenya.
Leading presidential candidate Raila Odinga has brought Morris on as a consultant to help him beat incumbent President Mwai Kibaki in next month’s elections. Last week Morris arrived in Kenya on a tourist visa and held a press conference saying he believed Odinga was poised to win the election.
“I think the reason is he has a clear reputation for courage and for integrity and for change,” Morris said. “I am delighted to be here in Kenya and to help you get rid of the corrupt government.”
But news of Morris’ own scandals soon spread throughout Kenyan media. Letters to the editor and op-ed articles have severely criticized Odinga’s choice of consultant. One op-ed in Kenya’s The Nation newspaper laid out Morris’ past indiscretions, including his affair and leaking of sensitive information to a prostitute, and that the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services has Morris as one of the top 10 tax evaders in the state. As of Oct. 1, 2007 he still owed almost $300,000 in back taxes.
Yes, that doesn’t exactly build credibility for a reformist candidate. Odinga may not have known much about Morris, but then again, he didn’t have to pay much, either. At least, that’s the story to which his campaign has steadfastly clung since the revelation that Morris arrived on a tourist visa, in apparent violation of immigration law.
The government — the one Morris accused of corruption within hours of his arrival — has a different interpretation. It takes far longer to get a work visa than a tourist visa, and the election is in less than six weeks, and the government sees this as a dodge. Dr. Alfred Matua, the government’s spokesperson, says that Morris broke the law and will be subject to arrest, prosecution, and deportation if he enters Kenya again in a similar manner. Morris needs to apply for the appropriate work permit, or confine his activities to tourism … such as “taking pictures of monkeys”.
Taking pictures of monkeys? That sounds almost as much fun as wrestling with pigs, which any American political analyst can do easily enough here at home. If Morris wants to return to Kenya, though, he’d better start taking some snapshots of the primate life and spend less time on electioneering.