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Maxed out

Political primer

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If you’re at all like me — and I’m certain there’s at least one person in your life who hopes you aren’t — you’ve probably not been following politics as closely as you may once have. Not wanting to speak for you, I’ll admit my apolticality has had a lot to do with some or all of the following reasons, in no particular order. The seven, soon to be eight year nightmare known colloquially as the Bush Presidency…

Now that I think of it, I really don’t need any more reasons.

Okay, sorry. That was a cheap joke. Truth be told, there are plenty of reasons on this side of the border to be less than interested in politics. And while, yes, Stephen Harper is among them, the principle reason to have turned off Canadian politics is the Mystery of the Great Disappearing Liberal Party. In case you haven’t noticed, the Liberals have left the building, er, country. What was — until The Case of the Chrétien Sponsorship Scandal — Canada’s natural ruling party, has vanished from the Great White North’s landscape entirely.

Each night when Parliament’s in session, which isn’t many since Stevie seems to believe his ship of state runs best when it runs without public scrutiny, a ghostly apparition, the Spectre of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition appears dimly on the nightly news broadcasts, themselves having been reduced to heartwarming stories about junior hockey league fights in the absence of any real news coming out of what used to be Canada’s seat of government. Pale and wan, the Ghost of Stephanie Dion speaks hallow, even spectral words about the Liberal Position. Exhaustive investigative reporting has failed to shed any light on exactly what he means by that, unless he’s referring to the position he seems to have assumed in regard to Conservative initiatives, such as they are. That Liberal Position seems an almost Cirque du Soleil contortion involving Stephanie bending acutely at the waist, grasping his ankles and whispering, “Be gentle, Big Boy, or one of these days I’ll have to say No.”

It is unclear at this point just when that day might arrive. The Liberal Party, which I understand has been moved to the rec room of Justin Trudeau’s home where, employing a Ouija board, he and Lloyd Axworthy spend fruitless evenings trying to channel Justin’s father, has vanished from the Great White North. The handmaiden-caretaker Opposition left behind seems to have but a single plank in its platform, namely, Avoid an Election at Any Cost.

But with no real opposition — the NDP and Blocheads being, to political parties, what MukMuk is to real Olympic mascots — there can be no real politics. There being no real politics, there can be nothing of interest coming out of that part of the country.  

But there are politics aplenty south of the border as the grim veil of the Dark Ages of Bush wind down to their grand finale, which will either see Georgie Porgie return to a life he both relishes and understands — clearing brush and riding his bicycle in Texas — or borrow a page from some of his more enlightened world leader friends, Pervez Mussharef comes immediately to mind, and declare martial law and appoint himself Ruler for Life under the terms of the new, lighter Constitution, or whatever’s left of it now that he’s managed to gut its more appealing features.

The presumed closure of the Bush Era has given rise to, well, hope. And while it’s true Barack Obama has actually copyrighted the word ‘hope’ as applied to the upcoming U.S. election, I use it here in its generic sense. If it seems to you as though the U.S. election has been going on for so long it must be over, take my word for it: it’s not.  

It’s nearly over for the Republicans. A varied and colourful field of potential presidential candidates — to the extend a group of old, white men wearing identical dark suits and saying mostly the same things can be called colourful — has been whittled down to just over one, but far short of two. The Republican contest has been the more interesting one.   Following on the general theme of the Bush Years, it’s most closely resembled a cheap, B-Grade horror movie. What everyone thought of as the leading man, Rudolf Giuliani, was killed off much earlier than everyone expected. In retrospect though, his demise was foreshadowed by thin dialogue — “Be scared; Remember Nine-Eleven.” — and the fact that nobody ever saw him outside the borders of Florida, itself known best as God’s waiting room.

The other standard-bearer for the GOP — Grumpy Old Party — was Mitt Romney. Mitt, short for Mittsy, never seemed to get much traction despite his uncanny ability to appear to be on all sides of every issue while staunchly upholding Party Dogma. In the end though, what everyone suspected was revealed: Mitt was, despite the disguise provided by actors pretending to be his wife and family, Barbie’s ex-boyfriend, Ken. Once this became clear, everyone suddenly understood why Mitt seemed to be a man with neither heart nor brain.

That left Senator McCain, Huckleberry Hound and Ron Paul. Ron makes too much sense to be a Republican.

Rumour has it Ralph Nader will talk him into being his vice-pres running mate and they’ll both dance into Munchkinland singing, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”   Huckleberry’s chief credentials — being governor of Alabama and a Baptist preacher which, when you get right down to it, are one and the same — haven’t provided much support outside certain southern states that still allow interfamilial marriage.

That leaves John McCain, about whom we’ll have more to disparage another day.

The Democratic Party is where all the fun’s happening this election year. A woman and a black man are duking it out to see who gets to be the next person some nutjob with a cheap gun can take down. Okay, now that we’ve stated the Fear Nobody Speaks, how does someone steeped in the twin battles for civil rights and women’s rights choose between these two groundbreaking choices?

In case you haven’t been following U.S. politics very closely, Hillary’s the woman. You can be forgiven if this comes as news to you. After all, Barack has been accused both of not being black enough to be truly black and of channeling his inner woman and being, of all things, a consensus builder. At the same time, Hillary has been, well, hawkish and quite masculine sometimes and has, at others, seemed about one slight short of hauling off and smacking Obama a good one.

By next Tuesday we may know which of the two will go up against McCain. Then things’ll get really interesting. In the U.S. There’s really no hope for things getting interesting in Ottawa.