Fake it Until You Make it Patriotism
By Charles Adler
May 4, 2009
I don’t want you to mistake me for an admirer. But I do admire a good speech no matter who it comes from, no matter the circumstances. The speech on Saturday night left me colder than a Prairie January. You have been promoted by the candy cane salesman of the Liberal Party as a man of ideas, Canada’s answer to Obama, a public intellectual, the second coming of Trudeau. There were no ideas in the speech, except that you think it’s a hell of an idea to have 3000 Liberals gathered at a convention. In the days of Trudeau, you could get tens of thousands. What’s the difference between you and Trudeau? It’s like asking what’s the difference between night and day. Trudeau’s eyes sparkled and his wit cut like a knife. His speeches, especially in the early days, made Liberals turn to each other and have trouble seeing each other because they had tears in their eyes. On Saturday night, the small gathering of Liberals weren’t looking into each other’s eyes with that, “Oh my goodness, have we just witnessed the risen God?” They were looking at their watches to see if you could be done by 3pm west coast time so they could get up to their hotel rooms and get ready for a hockey game.
Now Barack Obama, as you may know, didn’t just scribble his speech over the course of a few hours and hand it to his wife for a quick edit job. A team of skilled speech writers worked on it, and worked on it, and refined it, and before it went into the prompter it was filled with poetry and prose and patriotism. Obama connected with American voters in a way that few people in our time have. My strongest hunch tells me that if you had stayed in the USA and gotten involved in public life as you were thinking of doing, that you too would have engaged in a process similar to Obama’s. Something more sophisticated than the cheap pizza you delivered on Saturday, old cheese, moldy crust and a sauce that tastes like it was cooked in the backside of a cat. Would I be wrong in presuming that you felt that these three thousand Canadian rubes gathered in Vancouver were not good enough for your best efforts? These three thousand desperate rubes who have been out of power for more than 3 years now, and have gone with two duds in a row for prime minister. There was Paul Martin, the steam ship owner who ran out of steam five years before the battleship Chretien was finally mothballed. And of course, there was Stephane Dion, whose main job at this convention was to show up and speak for half an hour on Friday night and remind the three thousand desperate rubes just how bad things were when they were forced to swallow the idea they were being led by a guy sporting black eyes from the punches he was taking from the Tories and stab wounds all over his torso from the knives you and Bob Rae were sticking in him from the shadows. There was the wounded Stephane Dion who still walks around like one of those Japanese soldiers in the South Pacific thirty years after the end of the war, still looking for the enemy because he never got the word that the war was over. There is the old Liberal soldier Stephane Dion wandering around Vancouver with a tin cup, wondering whether any Liberals who are flush will help pay off the 150 thousand dollars he still owes from his so-called winning leadership campaign.
And why did he win Michael? It is a question that wasn’t waiting for historians to weigh on it. Liberal voters were asking the question from the minute that last convention was over. Why did this loser win? And the answer was simple. It was because you and your old Bob Rae couldn’t make a deal. They couldn’t get both of your egos into a room to cut a deal to support each other, and so you pretended to be ok with Stephane Dion being the de facto interim leader of the Liberal party. And while he floundered around like fish out of water, like a fish on the deck of a boat, you and your friend Bob Rae allowed your political opponents to beat that fish with their paddles and once he was dead and just lying there on the boat, you and Bob told your friends in media that this fish was really stinking out the joint. Now that is my generous way of reading your actions in the months after the green scarf convention that choked the life out of the post Jean Chretien – Paul Martin Liberal party. I do have a less generous and as you know more accurate reading of what went on. And I think the public deserves the real story, not the grimm’s fairy tale that you offered on Saturday night. First a quote from your Fairy Tale:
“I want to speak directly to Stephen Harper.
For three years, you have played province against province, group against group, region against region, individual against individual.
When your power was threatened last November, you unleashed a national unity crisis and you saved yourself only by sending Parliament home.
Mr. Harper, you do not understand Canada.
You have failed to understand that a Prime Minister has only one job: to unite Canadians.
Mr. Harper, you have failed us.
If you can’t unite Canadians, if you can’t appeal to the best in us, we can.”
Actually, in the spirit of generosity, because you are a newly-anointed, sorry-elected leader, kind of like an old Saddam Hussein election, you got 97 percent of the vote on Saturday night because all the contenders were told by Liberal party bosses to get lost. Democracy had produced Stephane Dion and they didn’t want a repeat of that mistake. So you did get 97 percent of the vote. No word on who got the remaining three percent. Perhaps John Gomery can investigate where the three percent went.
Let’s talk about the episode in recent history where you accuse the prime minister of not understanding Canada, an interesting statement coming from a man who spent ninety percent of his adult life outside Canada, which I suppose is why you blow that windy stuff around about how the Liberal party is representative of every part of Canadian society. When you were a child living in Canada, you might have been able to say that without drawing gales of laughter. I am not clashing with your long term memory. Like a lot of aging men, it’s still intact. It’s your short term memory that appears a little foggy and so I go back to your statement at the end of your speech where you are attempting to, as they say in the country that you know much better than Canada, and that would be the USA, as they say in the USA, in that final portion of your speech where you are trying to hit for the fences you accuse Stephen Harper of threatening a national unity crisis by proroguing Parliament. Since you claim to be a public intellectual I know you can handle my depositing of context in the public airing of your failed home run swing.
There was no wood in your bat Michael, because the public sitting in the bleachers knows that the reason Stephen Harper sent the parliament home was because of that wretched piece of political theatre that your former leader set up with the help of Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe. That piece of theatre called coalition coup, a political move that was designed to hijack the will of the Canadian people by entrenching a new unelected government for two years that would have put Stephane Dion in the prime minister’s office and Jack Layton with a seat at the table and with Gilles Duceppe just outside the room, but with a veto pen in his hands. This disgusting contraption called a coalition is what triggered the national unity crisis which Stephen Harper solved by getting the Governor General to send all the thugs home and start all over again in a few months. In those few months you and your back room lads had the chance to stick the final nails into your leader’s coffin. If you thought the coalition idea was what Canada really wanted, than you clearly don’t understand Canada, and so to accuse the PM of that is a bit rich as they say in your circle of influence. A bit rich. Now there is an even less generous narration of what went on in that period of recent Canadian history and it is simply that you and Bob Rae set up Stephane Dion for the final fall. The man had already said he was leaving. But it wasn’t happening soon enough. So you and Bob convinced Dion that going public with Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe and trying to seize the levers of government without an election was just something that would really hang Dion out to dry and force him to exit sooner than he wanted to.
But Michael, no matter which scenario one chooses to believe, it’s impossible to believe that Stephen Harper is the one who is dividing region against region and that the Liberal Party is the all-knowing, all-feeling, all-Canadian party. If the Liberals connected with Canadians the way you believe they do, why would you have been left with this pity potty of a convention in Vancouver which almost nobody attended and almost nobody watched on TV. Adding insult to injury for all the optimism about the Liberal Party having become this force that unified the regions, how is it that the leader of the BC Liberal party didn’t want to be seen at the convention, didn’t want to be seen with you. Is it because he was out of the province at the time? Or, is it because he is involved in an election campaign and being seen with a federal Liberal in BC is considered politically dangerous.
Michael, I do wish you well in your new life as an accidental tourist in Canada with your new gig, the newest caretaker leader of the Liberal Party. The polls which Liberals keep pointing to with some sense of optimism still say that Stephen Harper is the most trusted choice for Prime Minister. Why is that Michael? And if your clumsy attempt at saying that he doesn’t understand Canada was on point, don’t you think that in a tough economy he would be doing a lot worse on that all important ballot question? Well I will let you go now. I know that you are scratching for an issue to bring the government down with. The sooner, the better, from the perspective of most of your advisors. After all, two things may happen in the next six months that will cement Stephen Harper’s chances of getting a third mandate: 1) The economy will get better; 2) The Canadian public will get to know you better.
Neither would be good news for the Liberals.
[ READ IT HERE ]
I am a fan of Charles Adler and that’s something I’ve boasted about in the past. The man tells it like it is, I don’t care what your views are, you will have a hard time arguing with this man on the facts as they are. It is common sense at its clearest, without spin. Yes I know, people call him ‘right wing’ Yeah, okay! – The man goes by what’s put out there from all sides. Left, right, centre… They all get their opinions out there on his show – Canada needs more like Charles Adler, a person who wants to tell it like it is, and actually does!
So, Thank you Mr. Adler!