Now that the speculation is over and Wyclef has officially announced his candidacy in Haiti’s presidential race, it’s high time that he be given the presidential treatment. This isn’t the case of putting the cart before the horse, but it is apropos that Wyclef’s past be explored. In the case of someone who has been exposed to the rock and roll lifestyle since he’s been old enough to vote and for the majority of his adult life, Wyclef will soon be vetted to the utmost degree. Let’s take a look at just how his past may work against him during one of Haiti’s most important presidential races in its history.
Much has been made of Wyclef’s Yele organization’s past financial imprudence in the wake of Haiti’s recent catastrophic earthquake. Many of us were so moved to donate and with the ease of a text message and we were able to add to the relief efforts by donating a dollar or two via our mobile phones. Truth be told, Yele wasn’t the only organization accused of mishandling earthquake relief funds, but as Haiti’s most outspoken international ambassador, Wyclef’s face could be easily associated with these scandals, much more than the Red Cross.
WATCH COVERAGE OF WYCLEF’S RUN FOR HAITI PRESIDENT:
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His resignation as head of Yele, the organization he helped found, was his first smart move prior to his announcement that he intended to run for president. Let’s not also forget about the 2.1 million dollars he owes in taxes to the U.S. government. It’s not to the tune of 35 tax liens and over 4 million dollars like Alicia Keys’ new husband, Swizz Beatz, owes but then again, Swizz isn’t running for president of an utterly economically devastated and ravaged Caribbean island nation.
What about Wyclef’s prior experience, if any? Several actors and musicians, used to undivided attention, have turned to politics to fulfill their greater aspirations. Many are quick to cite Ronald Reagan as a prime example of a superstar ascending to political glory, however, Reagan first served as Caifornia’s governor for two terms in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He even pushed conservative rhetoric with his General Electric-sponsored speeches and laughable doomsday speeches on the dangers of socialized medicine.
Even California’s current “governator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, served several years as chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports albeit largely ceremonial and meant for celebrities. He may have been short on political experience, but he at least was in the know with some key conservatives. Wyclef? Not so much. Even his uncle Raymond Jospeh, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti—someone with political experience mind you—is rumored to be possibly running for president of Haiti.
This rabbit hole of political vetting goes much deeper, folks, and like many other politicians before him, the issue of extramarital affairs will come more to light than it has in recent years. While the issue of Wyclef having a nude photo of his then manager Lisa Ellis on his phone, later discovered by his wife Marie Claudinette sparked rumors of infidelity, both parties denied it. Just as quickly as the story broke, it fizzled as fast as it appeared. Wyclef did admit to having an affair with fellow Fugee Lauryn Hill this year, some 14 years after the affair allegedly ended. Keep in mind, according to a Rolling Stone expose on Lauryn Hill’s disappearance after her meteoric rise with her Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, fellow Fugee Pras was quoted as saying that Lauryn was unsure of whether her first child’s father would be Wyclef or longtime love Rohan Marley. Given that this occurred in 1996 and Wyclef was recently accused of having a mistress this year, let’s hope that Wyclef had the foresight to choose paramours all this time who were not as hungry for fame as Tiger Woods’ former bed buddies proved to be.
Amidst the plethora of articles that have come out related to Wyclef’s fitness or unfitness for presidency of Haiti is the interesting notion that President Bill Clinton’s efforts be damned. Elect an international star, the logic goes, and the champagne and caviar dreams will follow. As simplistic as this is, it in no way takes into account the fact that Haiti needs more than flash and sparkle to do something as essential and heretofore impossible as repairing the infrastructure that this country has lacked for decades.
Sure, Wyclef could serve as the puppet figurehead and allow his cabinet to make the more important decisions (see: Bush, George W. and Tutankhamun, King), but it seems that most Haitians who helped haul off the bodies of the deceased as well as those whose current home is a flimsy tent want more than someone who can offer catchy hooks and a public relations blitz. Wyclef may “not be able to sleep at night” if another five years passes by without his homeland restored to some semblance of normalcy, but he better be sure to use that same talent used to craft catchy tunes to tightening up his personal life and lack of political experience.