My heart — yes, despite some accusation to the contrary, there’s something ticking inside my chest — goes out to Brad Cabana.
You just know he had to have been teased endlessly while growing up on the Prairies; how else to explain his supersensitive nature, exemplified in recent days by his decision to sue Terrible Terry French and the entire provincial government after the minister used scandalous words to describe our boy from away.
Who knows? Did little Copa go running home in a snit when some big farm lad called him a cry baby after he lost an election for president of the sixth grade?
Perhaps his mother, already sick to death of Bradley’s tantrums, wondering when he was going to leave her bosom and keep to his promise to emigrate to Newfoundland to look up his 14 third cousins working in a fish plant on the Southern Shore and save all those stupid Newfies from themselves, stroked his little blond head and replied: “Sure, honey, sweetie pie, sure, sure, that’s what you are.”
Now, to be fair to Cabana the Crier, we should examine the dastardly facts; after all, this has to be serious stuff, given Copa’s dramatic threat to drag every elected Tory in Confederation Building down to Water Street to appear, disgraced beyond words, their careers already in tatters (the damage having already been done by those yellow journalists spreading the word of Brad), before the esteemed Judge Larry Libel (they’re all esteemed, are they not?).
So Tattlin’ Terry, according to Bellicose Brad, was heard saying at a Tory gathering that pavement and political donations are as synonymous as fish ’n chips, or words to that effect. Well, come on now, for the love of St. Joseph! Is that not the most shocking thing you’ve ever heard? Why, not a sliver of asphalt has ever, ever been laid for the sake of the ballot box here in Newfoundland.
Nevertheless, Terrible Terry took umbrage, was absolutely outraged that anyone would dare to accuse him of drawing a direct link between pavement and votes. And using language shockingly inappropriate for a parliamentarian, and certainly out of character for a wordsmith like himself, the minister described the saviour from the west as a “scumbag” and a “political prostitute.”
Now scumbag is not normally perceived as a pleasant and complimentary term, referring as it does — please stop reading here if you’re not old enough to get into an R-
rated movie — to a used condom. But French could make the case to Judge Libel that the word needs perspective, that, one could argue, a condom that’s been used means someone had been utilizing said article while practicing safe sex,
a laudable practice, a practice encouraged by normal-thinking members of society throughout the world (the lone exception being the Pope).
Heck, scumbag could be viewed as a term of praise and endearment, meaning a useful politician, or a once useful politician now retired after performing an invaluable duty to mankind.
And then we have “political prostitute.” Well, Terrible Terry may have been simply harkening back to a news story making the rounds a few years back that there seemed to be a proliferation of ladies of the night in American cities where national political conventions were taking place; thus, the term “political prostitutes.” That seems harmless enough. Only Judge Libel can tell us for sure.
Or, of course, there’s considerable evidence that Terrible Terry was, indeed, describing a politician who desperately grabs any party banner available that might
give him a few headlines, a few moments on the evening news. You know: someone who runs for the Tories, cries foul when he doesn’t get his way, then decides to run for the Liberals, but is viewed as a nobody, a comical interlude.
In any case (so to speak), this threat of legal action provided Kathy Dunderdale with an opportunity to use a deliciously saucy line, her best sound bite since becoming premier: “Knock yourself out, Mr. Cabana.”
I’d be willing to bet that just about the entire province — people of all political stripes — giggled with approval at Dunderdale’s assessment.
Bob Wakeham has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.