Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pretty much over

I heard a remark on the radio as I was driving around town this afternoon.
Listening to CFRB (I only listen to Talk Radio now – as a former disc jockey I find it all but impossible to just listen to music – I can practically hear the format under the tunes, and can almost guess which songs the producers will play to take them exactly to the hour, the quarter or the half; it’s distracting is what I’m saying) I heard John Moore suggesting to his guest the Prime Minister that the election, with not so very long to go, still pretty much hadn’t gotten underway.
The Prime Minister had to pretty much agree.
I was relieved. Because as far as thinking about the election myself – considering the issues… listening to the candidates… deciding just exactly how much of a wally Steven Harper is this time around – I haven’t exactly been engaged in the process. My mind has been elsewhere – and unlike years past, this time around I really don’t care.
Of course I don’t mean I don’t care I don’t care – I mean I think “it’s going to be okay”I don’t care; I think that barring some unforeseen major trauma, we’re looking at another Liberal minority or bare bones majority, so I think status quo-wise, everything should remain pretty much, well, status quo.
And I don’t think it’s as a result of that haircut that leads the Conservatives – and I don’t think it’s because the Prime Minister has turned up the scintillation factor, exhibiting heretofore undiscovered reserves of charm, or even because Buzz Hargrove had a meltdown and fell in mad, passionate love with the Liberal party all of a sudden. I think it’s because there are larger issues in play and for the first time in my lifetime, considerations outside our country which may well contribute to the biggest influence on the vote.
There’s just a little too much far right nuttiness out there and consciously or sub, I believe Canadians will not want to contribute any more to it by voting in another conservative-type government that has on more than one occasion flirted with some of the issues and obsessions that have so shockingly distracted the President of the United States and his practically frothing-at-the-mouth Far Right Christian supporters.
The Prime Minister and former PM served themselves, their party and their country well in one thing at least: in making clear in issues as diverse as softwood lumber and same sex marriage – not to mention defining Canada’s non-role in the Iraq war – that they were taking a different tack – and by doing so sailing against the wind and the world’s greatest superpower.
The current PM – and future, I predict – has made his most judicious moves in distancing himself and us from the true evils that beset America in the 21st century. Removed as it may seem from the fistfights and dust-ups that blow up over differences in opinion over the future of private health care, the directions the parties see for a myriad of policy issues and the stand each takes on the issues of personal morality and conduct, the war and its ethos seems to fascinate and terrify Canadians as much or more than American voters.
The Liberals will be voted in again because we trust them not to belly-up to the Republican President; it’s as simple – and as complex – as that. There’s a balance that needs to be struck, as ethereal as it is real, that won’t allow for more right whingeing in North America.
The majority of us get it, I believe, get what it has taken several years and multiple deaths and a few (finally) publicly revealed cock-ups for the majority of Americans to get: that the President and those who serve him are as corrupt and wicked as the wickedest of ‘evil-doers’ they swore to take down when they led as much of the world as was theirs to weasel into the so-called War Against Terror.
In a world more beset upon by terror than ever before, the worst part – or the best, depending upon your point of view – is that though the realization has cost the lives and resources and goodwill that it has, it is based less on the actual war and more on the way in which the President and those closest to him have reacted to any criticism of the war.
As Frank Rich wrote recently in The New York Times, the Administration is on the run – and heaving the most pathetic of non-explanatory bombshells in their wake.
Rather than respond to the recent kafuffle stirred up by Representative John Murtha (D-Pa – and former proponent of the war) who called for an early exit from the war in Iraq by joining the debate on “… how our troops might best be deployed in a recalibrated battle against Islamic radicalism”, the President’s men (and women) moved in like attack dogs seeking the jugular, instead of guard dogs protecting the people, attacking their critics and impugning their characters.
Why no discussion? Why no reasoned explanation? Why call a decorated Marine veteran and hawkish Democrat (and recognized unofficial spokesman for the troops) a coward, (from Republican Congresswoman ‘Mean Jean’ Schmidt: “…cowards cut and run, Marines never do”) or proclaim, as did Vice President Dick Cheney, that anyone who suggested that the Iraq war was entered into on a lie was dishonest and reprehensible, and “… are engaging in revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety.”
(Frank Rich injects a hint of much-needed humour – not to mention uncanny accuracy – into the discussion by comparing Cheney’s over-the-top defensive bombast as reminiscent of the misanthropic Mr. Potter of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life”, he sounded, says Rich “… but one epithet away from a defibrillator.” Beautiful. Right – Potter… or maybe in the Canadian version, Conrad Black; though to be as vocally grandiloquent as his Lordship, Cheney would have to step up not only the wounded disbelief, but the verbal impenetrability factor as well. So far, I still more or less understand the Administration – the words, if not their true meaning.)
The new line from the White House – note: presented with neither shame nor chagrin - is that if it IS true that the war was entered into based on false information about WMD, they were just ONE of the suckers that bought into that theory. Just one of the unfortunately mislead… really no different from anybody else.
Problem is, some of us remember.
This is the problem with the US – they allow themselves to be distracted by this rubbishy legerdemain, forgetting the things that we as Canadians do not forget.
I remember the debate in the UN. I remember Canada, amongst other countries, begging the US to allow weapons inspectors to finish their job, a job if you recall, that at that point had not found anything yet. A job that Hans Blix suggested would take just a couple more weeks.
I remember Colin Powell looking as though some unseen hand had been shoved unceremoniously up his bottom, forcing him into pathetic puppetry as he parroted the words the backroom boys had bullied him into proclaiming, telling the UN Assembly that America, with or without them, would be moving on this the greatest menace to US security since 9/11 – a grave danger threatened from a quantifiable enemy.
I remember the threatening tone with which the US torpedoed the UN.
I remember the constant subtle and not-so-subtle references to 9/11. I remember as the pursuit of Osama bin Laden faded and the search for Saddam Hussein took centre stage. I remember the move from Iraq to Afghanistan measured in weeks, the move out of Iraq still potentially many years.
Until recent months the President and his men (and woman) could depend upon their supporters to take what was given them (‘Mission Accomplished’; 9/11 + Saddam = justifiable war on Iraq; detractors = traitors; torture = effective interrogation) with neither complaint nor question. Now that the numbers are shifting (approval ratings: Bush – 36%; Cheney – 27%) the White House is discussing troop withdrawal as if they’d invented not only the term but the practice.
I’ll believe it when I see it.
I believe the President and the Republican Party should be on notice that a substantial portion of the western world and the G-7 nations are viewing the United States with the same awkward embarrassment as would a room full of guests forced to watch their host drunk and with his fly undone, slacks heading south.
There’s a growing sense that enough is enough – it’s time for a sobering shape-up to occur.
(Zip up that fly, slug down some black coffee and get with the program. And by the way, quit inviting your crazy friends over: they’re eating all the snacks, interrupting all the intelligent conversations and spilling blood-red wine all over the carpets and furniture.)
Put simply: we’ve had it – and Canadians are not going to run the risk of sending a mixed message when a clear one is needed the most.
Here church and state are separated. Here we view war as last ditch retaliation, not preemptive first strike. Here we don’t debate the need for universal health care – we argue the delivery of it. Here we tend to vote liberal, and we tend, if not to like it, then to appreciate the message it delivers on our behalf.
Campaign not yet begun?
I believe the campaign is over.

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