Political dramas descend into comedy

Bob Wakeham
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Is it just me and my warped perception, or does it appear in recent weeks that hardly a day goes by when there isn’t some sort of delicious political event prompting the age-old rhetorical question:  Are you f--kin’ kiddin’ me?

Newfoundlanders, and many of our mainland countrymen as well, just shake their heads in bewilderment, bemusement and there’s probably a scattered tear as well (especially in Tory tea rooms).

Take Queen Kathy and her old boyfriend Stephen Harper (you remember them, surely). There’s a spat taking place between the two electioneering daters these days, as the Newfoundland premier tries, albeit a tad late, to dip into that deep well of “us against them”  that has provided unlimited mileage for every leader in this province since Confederation. But they are among the culprits providing fodder for Canadians from coast to coast (in much of the national media, that seems to mean Halifax to Victoria) to sit back, put on the popcorn, and watch another public jackass performance.  

You have to admit, even if you’re a dedicated Tory, that Queen Kathy, Queen for a Term, precariously perched on her throne, is acting more unsure of herself than at any time since Dan the Man handed her the reins of power.

(All very strange, I must say, the way that all went down. There’s one  scenario making the rounds recently that Williams’ ego was/is so huge that he wanted to make sure his successor would never, ever be able to match his reputation and popularity, and that’s why Kath became his right-hand woman. Far-fetched, I know, but there’s no more powerful element in politics than one’s legacy.)

In any case, Dunderdale sounded like a participant in a Codco skit as she pathetically, almost sadly, could only trot out the most basic of cliches to try and explain her free fall in the popularity polls. The spin is as old as the  Southside Hills: Queen Kathy keeps telling her scrum-monopolizing inquisitor, the journalistic prosecutor of his day, CBC’s David Cochrane, that she’s getting so much public wrath because she’s doing such a good job. She insists, in fact, that she’s a principled individual, refusing to be governed by polls, that she’s making tough calls only for the betterment of her beloved subjects, those subjects who will eventually recognize the wonderful trip she’s taking them on to the promised land.                         

Just stick with me, kids, everything will be all right. Just a slight hiccup or two. Much better times to come, you’ll see. It’ll be worth it in the end.

And she obviously wants all of us to ignore the Draconian measures she enacted to restrict the kind of information each and every citizen is entitled to (and ignore the shockingly poor job government did in trying, and failing, to explain its repercussions away, and, in the end, making it appear even worse). The Queen would just as soon we all ignored, as well, the disastrous public relations her government performed on Muskrat Falls. They stumbled out of the gate on that one, and never recovered.  

And then, of course, she brings down a budget that was one of the oddest in recent times, a document that seemed to go out of its way to piss off as many people as possible, and further fueled talk around the coffee shops and bars that the Dunderdale administration couldn’t manage the finances of a small bed and breakfast.

If you think politics is getting at bit odd down here, just look to the west of us.    

Up there in Ottawa, you’ve got Mike Duffy up to his ears in you know what, the RCMP now wading into his affairs, but he continues to waddle past the media horde each day — his old journalistic friends, those who didn’t take a disgusting jump into the patronage trough as he did — the old Duffer acting as if his greatest indiscretion or crime may have been nothing more than putting a bucket of chicken for 12 on his government per diem.  And foolishly — arrogantly, you could say — foolishly believing this charm he believes he has will help him come out of this mess smelling like a rose.

Smelling, for sure, but it won’t be a rose.

And there was Pamela Wallen telling her one-time colleague Peter Mansbridge in a powder puff interview that her problems basically resulted from simple accounting mistakes, and implying that when all is said and done the public will once again adore that aging puss of hers.

My gosh, anchors seem to stay on the air these days with one foot in the grave, don’t they?

So maybe Wallen can make a comeback on the boobtube and replace George Stroumpouloupous while he tries to make it big on CNN this summer. Maybe she can resurrect her journalistic talents by taking lessons from George on how to conduct an interview while either hanging off your chair like a human pretzel or faking sincerity by almost getting in the lap of the person you’re interviewing and plucking any question from your repetoire of suck.

Where, can someone tell me, have all the good interviewers gone?   

And finally, there’s John Crosbie.

I was hoping he might answer a question in a Newfoundland take of of an old Simon and Garfunkle song: “Where have you gone, John Crosbie? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

Well, Joltin’ John hasn’t left and gone away, as Paul Simon would have put it, and he has now popped up as a Telegram columnist.  Unfortunately, though, there he was last week, defending the Senate, of all institutions.  

Yes, I know Crosbie is a pretty good fella, did a lot of good for Newfoundland, and he certainly has legenary political status in this place.

But, Lord J.,  trying to defend the senate?!

I was taken aback for a moment until my few memory neurons left in one piece kicked in and I recall Crosbie many years ago unabashedly making the point that patronage was a good and honourable thing, that there was nothing wrong with rewarding deligent party people with a good government job.  

Well, that’s what happened with the Senate, John. And now look where it’s gotten us.  


Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador.

He can be reached by email at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com.


Organizations: CBC, RCMP

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Halifax, Victoria Muskrat Falls Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Just sayin
    June 22, 2013 - 09:12

    Well said , Bob.