I Don’t Think They Like Him Much, Do You?

But I do.

The times I like him best, I guess, are the times when he gets caught in a question he both can’t answer honestly, and hasn’t been adequately prepared for.  These are the times when a profound hesitancy emerges, just for a second, and his eyes seem to say:

“Holy crap, what have I done?”

That’s the John McCain I know, or like to think I know:  the guy who really doesn’t believe any of this shit, who’s just saying it all to get elected, but who’s seriously not that good a liar, and who’s unconsciously sabotaging himself at every step because he can’t stand the dishonesty of it all.

In other words, the guy they don’t like.  Oh, they frickin’ LOOOOOVE that Palin chick, wow!  They’re absolutely nuts for her.  But McCain, not so much.  He’s out there to lose.  They would’ve really rather had anybody else (well, maybe except Huckabee;  yet strangely, not Romney), and it shows.  Every eulogistic word about John McCain rings horribly false to my ears, here, and I mean horribly.  This is the most evil procession of two-faced rabble-rousing speechifiers I’ve ever witnessed.  There’s a chewy centre of rotten nastiness here, underneath the stale coating of white-bread wishful thinking, and it stinks to high heaven.  In all probability, these people hate John McCain.

So, he’s got one unassailable credential, at least.

And now I pray he’ll live up to it.  Oh, it won’t happen!  But how I yearn to see him come out on that stage and blow it all off.  Blow it off, and blow it away.  It’s what I’d do, no joke:  I’d come out and lambaste them all for their intolerance and myopia and greed and hypocrisy and just plain lying, I’d call them vultures and false friends and I’d storm right outta there.  “Here, have Lieberman instead, you like him about as much as me anyway!”  I’d say scornfully.

Because Lieberman is the John McCain of the Democratic party.

This whole thing’s really quite sickening.  Thank God it’ll be over soon.

42 responses to “I Don’t Think They Like Him Much, Do You?

  1. Ye Gods, you just couldn’t script this, could you? People would call it too derivative, they’d call the parody too blunt…they’d say somebody already made Bob Roberts.

    Jesus, this is really bad.

    C’mon, McCain! Time to be Captain America! “America is a piece of trash…!”

  2. Also, perfect time to misread and mishear things…I swear I saw somebody holding up a sign reading “Satan For President”…

    There was about a minute or two of that speech that was honest, and therefore worth watching. Obama is not interesting to watch: at this point his “reasonable guy” credentials are so firmly in place that all listening to him talk can do is disappoint me (sorry for the tangled speech, it’s the coffee thing). To hear McCain speak from deep within his devil’s bargain is damn interesting, though: he’s become a fascinating character in part because of all the false love all these Molochs and Beelzebubs are throwing his way.

    And really, didn’t it seem like that one, two minutes of honesty was the whole reason McCain was permitting this farce to proceed? Like he doesn’t even want to be President at this point, he just wants to — against all odds — express who he really is to as wide an audience as he can secure. Obviously in the debates, he’s going down: he could barely hold his own against pro-torture Romney, debate-wise. Against Obama on healthcare, he’s fucked. And I kind of like McCain, but in the way I kind of like Bob Dole…so yeah. Totally fucked. And I do believe Biden will make Sarah Palin cry. But don’t worry, Sarah…as I imagine you telling McCain in the made-for-TV movie that exposes just what the fuck went on here, you’re the only real Republican candidate in this race, so you’ll be going to the big show again, never fear. You will get your chance to piss on the ashes of the bridge to the twenty-first century that Bush burned…but only after Obama builds a new one.

    It works like this: just like Margaret Drabble said, the old Establishment liberals failed because they couldn’t fathom that they’d become the Establishment, and the right-wingers had become the radical reformers. Now the right-wingers are back in place as Establishment fossils, and Christ does it show, but they missed the same lesson: they too, think they get to still be reformers, Reaganesque free marketeers who are gonna change the world with their bold new ideas…forgetting, of course, that we tried that and it didn’t work. America is lagging behind: in the UK their Tories headed for Libertarian country after the inevitable crushing defeat. Ours headed somewhere else entirely: in desperation, turning to a man they didn’t fully understand. These American Tories have yet to see the reality of their inevitable implosion, the inevitable failure to maintain the Bush coalition as the evangelicals demand ever more and receive ever less…and besides, all those fundamentalist Hatfields and McCoys hate one another worse than they could ever hate anyone else, except maybe Hillary or Obama…I mean it just can’t last, it’s a one-time thing, but the Republican party hasn’t twigged to that yet. If Sarah gets in eight years from now, it will not be on the back of a coalition, it will be as the leader of the Armies of the Night…that’s the only way that’s going down, unless she suddenly becomes, you know, not a fucking batshit looney-tune.


  3. Hey, Plok?

    Why do you even care?

    I’m being serious, here. No sarcasm whatsoever. Not trying to stir any shit.

    I honestly, deeply want to know why this matters to you, seeing as how — and again, please believe me when I say I’m not trying belittle or insult — seeing as how there’s absolutely nothing you can do about this election, one way or the other, short of emigration.

    I honestly, deeply, truly want to know why so many Canadians seem to care more about American politics than their own.

    Feel free to email me if you’d rather not have this discussion made public. I’m completely cool with that.

  4. No, this is fine, Erin. I actually care about a lot of things I don’t have the power to affect directly — American elections are just one of these things. Actually, there are many elections worldwide whose outcomes I care about, though of course I care far more about the outcome of elections here in Canada. And I would expect pretty well all Canadians care more about our own elections than about even those of our illustrious cousins to the south…ahem, kindly take note of the fact…

    But, at the same time, you’re a bit of a special case, too. Because we’re as invested in your political culture as you are in ours: Canada and the States are joined by many bonds of shared history, partnership, family, ideals, and that’s all before you even get down to the crass layer of shared jurisdictional responsibilities, economics, treaty membership, language, and blah-de-blah. So why shouldn’t I care? I’m told the name “Canada” translates roughly as “the neighbours” — well, and you’re not Canadian, but you and I are neighbours, too.

    Do you yourself not care about any elections in other countries? Not snark, just a question.

  5. And, I guess I’ll reiterate: this specific election of yours seems so weirdly charged with echoes of the past (among other things) that even if I weren’t interested in it for neighbourly reasons, I’d sure be interested in it for Tocquevillean ones. From an outsider’s perspective, the whole thing is playing an awful lot like a Robert Redford movie from the Seventies, and that’s…well, I would call it “arresting”, if I was being all value-neutral about it. I’ve said before that the most interesting thing about Bill Clinton’s Presidency is how he had occasion to fully play out the Executive’s role as a check on legislative excesses, not just in an everyday shit-gets-done manner but in a highly stylized way that seemed ripped from the pages of L’Esprit Des Lois — natural experiments, it seems, do exist — and this election is similarly fascinating for the unrestrained (I would even call it abandoned) spirit of partisanship that seems to put itself front-and-centre in every discussion, every debate, every analysis. I wonder how we will look back on the Republican debates in decades to come — will we be stunned to recall that many of the folks that sought the Republican nomination so proudly proclaimed their disbelief in evolution? Or will we be more surprised that the question was even put out there for them to answer at all? America’s always “at a crossroads” come election time, of course, just like any other democratic republic, but this time those crosses are so thickly-drawn that your country is starting to look like a bit of a test case in political philosophy, to me. So while it’s naturally my own country whose politics interest and concern me most, yeah: I’d be watching anyhow. Even if we weren’t so deep in one another’s spheres of influence.

    Now, I’m not trying to stir shit either, and I don’t think there’s anything in what I’ve said in this comment to do so…but it occurs to me now I should extend you the same courtesy you did me, so if you’d rather talk about it privately that’s fine with me, too. I should’ve said that before, sorry.

  6. I wasn’t the person you were asking, but if I can, I’ll respond to your question regarding whether Americans pay attention to elections in other countries.

    Speaking for myself, not so much. I hardly follow politics here in the U.S. much, and so the rest of the world has only intermittently caught my attention. I know when I used to take German (back in high school) our teacher would talk occasionally about an upcoming election, or about Helmut Kohl having lost to Gerhard Schroeder, and that there were about six different major parties, but she never really went into detail about what the differences were, and I had enough other things on my mind it didn’t really occur to me to go look it up myself.

    To the extent I’m interested in other countries’ politics, it’s primarily their form of government, which was largely due to a comparative political systems class I took in college. Since then, I’ve been somewhat taken with the idea of proportional representation in the legislature, as someone who tends to vote for third party candidates, and would like to actually see them getting a voice. I guess American political parties aren’t tightly knit enough for it to work, and I’ve heard countries with proportional representation have times where nothing gets done because no party has enough seats to get any legislation through, and they can’t seem to maintain coalitions, but it’s something that interests me, so I probably ought to be keeping more of an eye on that worldwide.

  7. Ni, I was just composing my response.

    First, a few ground rules:
    1) While we may talk about the process (execution, etc) of politics, talking about actual political topics is right out.
    2) Assume fair play, and any perceived insults are to be considered accidental, with the offending party being told “Hey, don’t go there” and given the chance to apologize.

  8. In all honesty, no, as a rule I don’t care about elections in other countries. That doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to them, though.

    For example, when France had its recent election, I was pleased with Sarkozy won, because I like the way he handled the riots, and because history shows that France is at its best when its ruler isn’t born there (See also: Napoleon).

    But never once did I sit down and rabidly devour political developments there. My train of thought was roughly thus: first, “Oh, good, Sarkozy is running. I hope he defeats Chirac,” followed by, “Oh, Sarkozy won? Good for him. Now France will probably align itself more closely with America.”

    And that was it, really.

    I can’t presume to speak for anyone else in this country (though the law of statistics says that someone somewhere must agree with me), but for me the amount of attention that Canadians expend upon our political system is alien and maybe a little creepy. It’s like that ex-boyfriend who always knows how his old girlfriend is doing, even when it’s not his business. I mean, you can’t, you physically CANNOT change America up there in Canada. The best you can do is elect politicians to enact foreign policy you agree with, and affect the USA that way (which I completely support and am cool with), but in my limited experience I have never, simply NEVER, met a politically active Canadian who cares more about the politics of his own country than that of the Great Southern Satan.

    I find it rather hard to believe that America casts THAT large a political or economic shadow. Canada is a fully self-sufficient nation (well, as self-sufficient as ANY nation can be these days). You are the largest country in the Western hemisphere. Your technology is equivalent to ours. You’re a nuclear power, just like us. Why, then, the disproportionate response?

    My personal thought on this — and again, no insult intended, so apologies beforehand — is because we’re such a *cultural* juggernaut. We make movies and television, and broadcast them to you in what is, spelling and some dialect aside, your own language. We make consumer goods and ship them across your border. In a way, America’s biggest export is its culture and lifestyle, and because you are right next to us and share our language, you have the benefit of getting these things quickly, easily, cheaply.

    The sharp side of this sword, of course, is that it’s very easy for Canadian culture to get lost in the flood of Americanism, and it’s understandable that you, as a people, would find that offensive and/or troubling.

    Let me tell you what you probably know already: most Americans, inasmuch as I can presume to speak for most Americans, don’t really think of Canada as a separate culture, or hell, even a separate *country*.

    Now before you get mad, I want you to realize that it’s meant as a compliment. America is a land of extremes; we’ve got liberals and conservatives and blacks and whites and yellows and reds and browns and for all I know blues and greens. We have Jews and Rednecks, Protestants and Catholics, dogs and cats living (mostly peaceably) together.

    To us, Canada is that set of really, really Northern States. Sure, you talk a little funny, but no more so than Texans or Californians or whatever they call people from Maine. Sometimes you speak French, and that’s okay; go far enough south and/or west and you run into damn near entire *states* that speak Spanish.

    We like you. We like you so much, we think you’re us. Which is why it’s so damn jarring when you start freaking out about our elections, because A) it drives home the whole “Wow, I’d forgotten there was another country up there, and B) it makes us go “They don’t like us. Why don’t they like us? We like them. We *are* them, aren’t we? Why don’t we like ourselves?”

    And then, at least in my case, I realize how much we’re at each other’s throats when it comes to politics, and I get a bit miffed because, since you’ve pointed out that you aren’t a member of the family like we assumed, you really have no business commenting on, or really looking too closely, about our family affairs.

    It’s like that old joke, you know? “Nobody can call my brother a shithead except me.”

    I hope that made sense to you, and caused no offense. Please feel free to ask for clarifications or apologies as needed.

  9. Ah. No, don’t worry, I don’t find any of that particularly offensive. But, you know, just to politely correct you…Canadians care a LOT more about our own politics than about yours. I’d just like to make that clear to you.

    Hold on, I just wanted to slip this in…more detailed reply arriving shortly.

  10. Well, you’ve observed it now. And believe me, I know a whole shitload of Canadians, and I’ve never observed what you have. So perhaps you’ll take my word for it that you’re off-base, in that respect.

    Now, let’s get the ball rolling! First off, I just plain don’t agree with this “why would you care about another country’s politics, if you can’t change it” thing, and I’m not going to agree with it either — if you’ve got it worked out why one should and/or shouldn’t care, it’s got nothing to do with me, because I’ve got my own thing.

    Secondly, I’m beginning to think you’d be surprised to learn just how much we know up here about how the average American views Canada — which is probably why I don’t find your comments particularly shocking, because that point of view is not news to me.

    But thirdly: Erin, did I mention to you before that thing about the American ambassador trying to influence our elections a couple years ago? And how I would’ve cheerfully kicked him out of the country myself? I think “no business commenting” is rather asking for the moon, when you’re all up in someone’s business.

    Sorry, this is just a bit short (and hopefully not too snippy) because I’m rushing out the door. I’ll be back in an hour to correct any snippiness that may have occurred. But seriously, do me a favour: think on that last one. It’s not nothing.

  11. First: Agreement to disagree. I personally lump politics in with other filthy, disgusting jobs like trash collection, slaughtering livestock and burying the dead: necessary for a functioning society, but not anything that I’d want to do. I’d wash my hands of it completely if I didn’t feel that, left alone, it would only get worse. Thus I vote, and earn my right to complain. But if I had my way, I’d treat my local politician like my local garbage collector. So if that’s the way I feel about MY country’s politics, you can imagine the apathy I feel towards others.

    Second: You know what I specifically didn’t hear? I went to great pains to point out just how much, in my opinion, America likes Canada, and I didn’t hear *anything* like that in return. That’s quite telling, methinks.

    Third: Well, that’s complicated, and steers dangerously close to waters that may prove uncomfortable. Would you rather I be polite, or be honest? (I try my best to be both, but this one will probably be rather polarizing.)

  12. Ah. That did, indeed, sound a little brisk. So, to clean it up by expanding upon it somewhat:

    Yes, while I understand your point of view about “do notice, but mostly don’t care”, I don’t share it…and don’t see that there’s much to do there but agree to disagree. No doubt there’s some underlying reason for our difference, but just at the moment I won’t attempt to explain myself any further, or speculate about worldviews. You seem to be guided by enlightened self-interest and a certain kind of…can I call it aesthetics?…when you appreciate Sarkozy’s victory, and while I wouldn’t like to say I’m not motivated by aesthetics too (’cause I don’t know to what degree I am motivated by these, or might be), I don’t think I usually pay much attention to self-interest. For example, to take the United States: most of the time it doesn’t matter much to the matter of trade negotiations whether the Democrats are in the ascendant, or the Republicans are — either way, Canada and the States have pretty much the same kind of disputes. So in terms of tangible effects on me and mine, ideology is a lot less important than is (for example) the personal relationships of Prime Ministers and Presidents. So, as you say: why should I care? Admittedly these are unusual times, but even so: I care even when they aren’t unusual times, too. So it can’t be a matter of self-interest, or even sphere of influence, when one administration is much like the next, and in-between the Congress gets shaken up every which way as well.

    Having said which: in these unusual times I have a lot more reasons to care in a self-interested way, than I usually would. The aforementioned U.S. ambassador…if the Canadian ambassador to the States behaved in an equivalent way, it’d mean something like going on the Today Show and threatening Canada’s wrath if the American electorate didn’t vote the way we wanted them to. That’s about as bad as it gets, and don’t tell me you’d sit still for it…but there are other examples of the same thing, over the last few years. Now I don’t mind back-room dealings and diplomatic pressures, but going on TV and making thinly-veiled (if somewhat ludicrous) threats of sanctions, as for example your Drug Czar did on more than one occasion, is definitely pushing the envelope of whose business is whose…so if American politicians have felt free to publicly comment on domestic affairs in Canada for their own ends, yer darn right Canadian self-interest comes into play when you all get together to vote! Good fences make good neighbours, but dammit good neighbours make good fences, and if our national opinion of your politics is a little more revved up than usual that’s because you’ve been knocking the fences down.

    I hope you’ll notice I haven’t mentioned the war, nor do I intend to. For me this is not a left/right, pro-Bush/anti-Bush thing I’m saying. I mean, it’s not much of a stretch to guess that I don’t like Bush, but I’m not talking about what I like when I bring up the unusual self-interest generated by the unusual events of the unusual times, I’m talking about how what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Of course I don’t expect you to have had this stuff on your radar: why should you? Nevertheless, if we’re talking about whose business is whose, no…we’re not all just crazy, up here. You’ve been fucking with us a bit, and not as you would in the normal course of events either, but more aggressively. So I hope that explains that previous comment of mine somewhat.

    And on the matter of how Americans see Canadians (at least in a generalized sense, which isn’t really fair, but just because you brought that generalized sense up): as I said, we know. Our comedians make jokes about it, although sometimes these jokes are not fair, and are maybe a touch mean-spirited. We don’t expect Americans to know much about Canada — me personally, I’m not comfortable with Americans having an overinflated view of how utopian a society we are (because we’re NOT!) — but we do know all that pretty well, and it’s not really all that annoying. Hmm, maybe a little when you compare us to a stalker ex-boyfriend though.

    I’m sure that’s not a proper conclusion to my reply, but I just have to stop typing for a couple of minutes…I’ll come back. Hope you didn’t find anything provocative in there: but do let me know if you did.

  13. Ah! Sorry, missed you again!

    Okay, if you’ll read the comment I just left first…then once you have, do be honest about #3, the ambassadorial hijinks etc.

    Agreement to disagree: absolutely.

    And on #2: Erin, my goodness, of course Canada likes America! American people are the salt of the fucking earth!

    But more on that momentarily.

  14. Since I’ve got you here, now, please read my latest bit of fiction on my blog and tell me what you think. You haven’t commented since the prologue, and I miss your insight.

    (Feel free to comment there, so we can keep here about this current topic.)

  15. Well, now you’ve thrown off my composition…

    Yes, I thought I might send you an email about that. Easier for me to express myself, as I have a tendency to rattle on too much in more public settings…

    Now, where was I?

    Oh yes: now what is this about Canadians not liking Americans? Who told you that? Is this where all those anti-Canadian Law & Order episodes come from? Yeesh, now it makes sense…

    Hey, my grandmother was from Iowa, you know?

    Where do you get this crazy impression?

  16. See you tomorrow, Erin! I must confess you’ve got me curious about defending the #3 thing…I just don’t see how you can hold that one up, and still maintain the “no business commenting” position. Seems like a clear contradiction. I expect to have a stinging retort to any 4D acrobatics regarding it.

    Also, I’m seriously considering writing a little “Canada 101” thing for you, as a post. Um, perhaps more like “Canada 210”? I have a lot of halfway funny stuff prepared.

    Calvin: I’m rather curious about the possibilities of a mixed-representation system, myself. But I don’t think I’ll see it in Canada — maybe at the provincial level, one day. I don’t think — I don’t think — I’m much of a fan of pure rep-by-pop. Theoretically, sure; but one of the things I like about Canadian and UK politics is that sometimes a party that’s ruled for a long time simply gets sent to their room — sometimes there’s a landslide “NO”, and a full-on flip, and I get some satisfaction from that because I feel like this enables the electorate to deliver a real unmistakable rebuke to one party’s policies. I think this is political philosophy too: if we can’t have the absolute accountability of Athenian democracy (demogogue who misled the nation gets executed), at least our various republics ought to try for something like accountability…or anyway leave open an avenue to it. But in a system like Canada’s, or the UK’s, if once a smaller left-leaning party forms a majority it’ll be in their interest to establish rep-by-pop so that they can maintain a consistent voice in Parliament that’s more effective year by year, regardless of the temporary fervour of elections.

    And, you know, I can’t say that’s a bad thing…but I also really, really like sending governing parties to their rooms when they’ve grown complacent. So I dunno. Minority governments as the norm would be fine by me…but sometimes I think you do need a majority, because there are such things as unpopular measures that need to get passed.

    However I think one of the benefits of a multi-party system, no matter what formula it operates under, is to cycle issues up through the power structure a lot faster, and create actual mandates (instead of “everyone likes us the best ha ha” mandates). Not to be cynical, but just to use the most economical language: if polls show the Greens are getting a lot more support suddenly, then whatever the centrist party is, it’s bound to try to take some of their issues away from them by co-opting them, and that means “fringe” issues like the environment bob to the surface quicker and with a bit more force. It starts with competition, then moves into coalition…eventually, in my system and (I think) yours, it concludes with one of the larger parties swallowing one of the smaller parties pretty much whole, and revivifying itself where it might have otherwise become moribund. But my belief is that this cycle goes around a lot faster in a multi-party system. If Ralph Nader lived in Canada, we’d be facing a much more dramatic election up here! Suddenly the Greens would have a lot more room to move, and there would be more than one party trying to capture that vote…whereas right now there’s just one party making a determined stab at those numbers…the smaller party could actually swallow the larger, if conditions were just so…

    But with pure rep-by-pop, this cycle wouldn’t need to go around so fast, either: there’d be more coalitions, but fewer competitions, I believe. And one would expect: no absorptions at all.

    I guess it all depends on the type of dynamism you want your political system to have. Hmm…you’ve got me wondering, Calvin. What would rep-by-pop produce in a firm two-party check-and-balance system like the States? The President has, if I remember my classes in American government correctly, something like 330 times the power-politics pull of any individual legislator, and without the President onside virtually no coalition can press their agenda successfully…so, in the American system anyway, might not pure rep-by-pop increase the President’s power to an undesirable extreme? In other words, increase the Executive’s informal power to direct legislation?

    Just thinking out loud, and if anyone may be reading this who knows more than me — please, for the love of God, jump in and save me. But to my mind rep-by-pop in the States might necessitate some more general reworking of how power equations cook out between the Executive branch and the Legislative branch. Seems to me that if the Legislature can’t at least in theory be a Tyrant, then the Executive can’t be anything in practice but a King…


    And in that case, wouldn’t you need an appointed Senate to balance things out? Oh shit, that’s the House of Lords, I’m proposing the British Parliamentary system for Christ’s sake…

    And these aren’t the dynamisms we’re looking for.

    Man, I don’t know what to do with the American system. My friend Ed says it stays a two-party system because most Americans prefer it that way: you know where you stand. So, hmm…how ’bout restricting the candidates for President to independents?

    No, that’d screw things up too.

    Sorry, Calvin, I’ve taken off in a weird science-fiction direction with this…will return after I crash out from too much beer.

  17. Oh, brief commentary on the sci-fi government thing you veered into:

    I’m of the firm opinion that anyone who deliberately seeks public office past the local level should be barred from doing so. I mean, isn’t the essence of politics to lie, to gladhand, to manipulate? Aren’t politicians basically saying “Don’t vote for him, vote for me, because I’m the better liar” every time they campaign?

    Aren’t these the people who, in high school, were “the popular ones,” with all the smarmy artificiality that entails?

    With that opinion fully in mind, I propose that people should be *drafted* into government service, a la _Starship Troopers_ (the book, not the movie), where they can be held accountable for their actions and dismissed from service much like soldiers are today. (Call it a Courts Federal, if you like.)

  18. Are you talking about the missile defense thing, or something else? Because if it’s that statement about shooting down a missile and Canada giving up its sovereignty, then my honest reaction is “Get a grip. He didn’t mean it like that.”

    What I get from my research of the subject is that he said, “We want to make an anti-missile system. We want you to be a part of it. But if you don’t, and there’s a missile coming for us, well then we’re gonna shoot it down. Because our defense is more important than political considerations.”

    Then I believe he went on to say, “Look, if there was a missile coming at YOU, we’d shoot it down, because we like you.” That’s what he meant by giving up sovereignty, not that “America’s gonna police your airspace if you don’t go along with this.”

  19. You’re missing quite a lot of detail, Erin. You make it sound like a friendly disagreement among politicians meeting in offices. It wasn’t. Cellucci gave stump speeches in which he took his message to the Canadian public, inveighing against our government of the day in a manner stormy enough to effectively align him with our opposition party (you know, the one with the faint Republican odour?) while the debate was still going on in Parliament.

    Just about the most provocative thing he could’ve done…and brother, did he pull out all the stops to do it in a provocative way! But the real stinger is, this guy was the freaking Ambassador, not some loose cannon loudmouth off the street, so it doesn’t matter what he “meant” — it matters what he was told and empowered to say and do. You betcher fine ass it was about sovereignty. This guy was a propagandist.

    Let’s discuss this a little bit more before we get into the non-Cellucci stuff…um, if you want to get into the non-Cellucci stuff, that is. But it’s all about “no business commenting”, right? Point #3 of “why do you Canadians care so much about our election”, if I recall, the stuff about these unusual times we live in.

    First, though: coffee!

  20. Tell you what, I’ve changed my mind. After several hours of studying what I could find, I think we’ll just descend into greater arguments if we pursue this further.

    I hereby rescind the question.

  21. What, after all this typing?

    I don’t see how we could descend into arguing about Paul Cellucci — contradiction, perhaps. But, you’re not required to share my disapproval of Cellucci’s conduct and demeanor when he was ambassador to Canada, only to note it for what it is — i.e. something very heartily disapproved of up here, that was very widely seen as arm-twisting and a sort of brinksmanship. To know this is to know my point: that in these unusual times the Canadian interest in American politics is rather more heavily-flavoured with self-interest than usual, since we perceive that the States has been fucking with our shit politically much more than would normally be the case. So ultimately, Cellucci’s just an example of the kinds of things that have been contributing to that perception, and if you get that point than we’ve covered #3, so I won’t need to bring in any other examples like the aforementioned Drug Czar, effect of the Patriot Act on Canadian domestic flights, etc., to demonstrate that this aspect of “why I care” does, in fact, exist.

    Though naturally you’re not required to like that it exists. This is just all about answering that question. Which if you don’t feel like discussing anymore that’s fine, but I’m on a train of thought now so I think I’ll keep going.

    Not that there’s a whole long way left to go. To sum up:

    1. I’m interested in lots of different countries’ elections, American ones too, despite ordinarily not having much of a personal stake in them to speak of. You may think of that as a disproportionate level of interest, which is fine: we have already agreed to disagree about that, as we probably ought to since we’re different people with different interests.

    2. I’m particularly interested in American elections, because the U.S. and Canada are so deeply involved with one another, and share so many interests and affections as well as conflicts and responsibilities.

    3. At this time I am also extra-interested in American politics because our two countries have been dealing with each other in a much more intense manner politically, than is usually the case. Here’s the self-interest part: will we continue to do so, in the same way or in some different way? What effect that’s beyond the traditional norm of U.S./Canada relations can I expect to see stemming from this election, if any at all?

    Those are the main points, I think — there are a lot of others, probably too many to list easily, but these three cover most of the action. #3 in particular I hope explains why I feel questions like “what’s it to you?” are fundamentally off-target at the present time — not that I’d feel like I need any “right” to comment on U.S. politics at any time (technically that’s not a matter of “right” anyway, simply a matter of freedom — if I feel like doing it there’s nothing to stop me, or even slow me down, except my own free choice), but right now there are lots of reasons to say “well, this could potentially affect me” and so I think the objection’s misplaced. If it’s indeed an objection, that is; I must say it does sort of sound like one.

    On the matter of America’s cultural juggernaut status…yeah, absolutely, that’s always an interesting topic! I can go on about that one for hours, and frequently do. You do not quite replicate the Canadian point of view about that one, but you’ve got quite a few of the basic facts right.

    On the stalker ex-boyfriend thing: sorry, I don’t see myself in that mirror. It is, however, an amusing turn of phrase. Though I suspect many would find it inflammatory. Me, I’m chill though.

    What I’ve missed here is an examination of why I care about other countries’ politics as much as I do — there’s always a why! — but if I decide to talk about that it’ll be later on. I hope you’ll take my word for it that Canadians don’t hate Americans even if we sometimes say a sharp thing or two about your politics…but mostly I’d just like to point out that I wouldn’t dream of telling any of you how you “should” vote, no matter how sharp I might get on occasion that really is none of my business. Because I don’t live there.

    Finally, I’d just like to say it one more time: we care about our own politics most of all. Always.

    And look, there’s the station.

  22. Wow, there’s been a whole conversation happening here.

    This topic is something that I’ve thought a lot about. I’m sure I’m repeating myself when I say this stuff, but:

    The problem here is Canadian identity. The U.S. has a very strong identity, and is good at exporting it. Canada’s identity is much less easily understood, and it’s easy for someone – say, a Canadian – to make the mistake of believing that Canadian identity is in danger of being overwhelmed by American identity. Such a Canadian may very well respond with hostility towards the U.S.

    There’s more to being a Canadian than just not being American. There are far better ways of being Canadian than hating the U.S. But anti-Americanism is the most obvious way, and it’s one that some Canadians have glommed onto.

    (Among my experiences in this area: I recall a Toronto TV commentator referring to the U.S. as ‘the worst country in the world’. One girl who was in my university residence told me once, “I hate Americans. Americans are stupid.”)

    But not on an individual level. I’d be surprised if individual Americans have *ever* been subjected to anti-American prejudice in Canada. I mean, I imagine it must have happened, but I’d still be surprised.

    One reason Canadians are interested in America and its politics is that America is what’s on TV. It’s fascinating stuff! Especially this year’s election; how could anyone expect us to look away from that?

    I don’t think the stalker-ex thing really fits. It’s more… my brother traveled to western Canada once. When he got back, he reported that there is in fact some resentment there towards eastern Canada (in particular the Toronto area, where he and I vaguely live). He said specifically, “They tell you they don’t like you, but then they want to show you all their stuff.”

    So I think it’s the same kind of thing between Canada and the U.S. You should have seen the embarrassing spectacle the city of Toronto made of itself when Conan O’Brien broadcast his show from here for a week. It’s just Conan O’Brien, guys. Have you never heard of playing it cool? The Americans wouldn’t fawn all over Mike Bullard this way if he broadcast his show from New York for a week.

  23. Hah, Matthew: but people wouldn’t fawn over Mike Bullard if he broadcast from the Afterlife, either, would they?

    I actually wanted to tell Erin that she was reminding me of a hegemonic Torontonian assuming that Vancouverites hated them because of their innate Central Canada superiority…which is of course an assumption that inspires the very sentiment that it decries, and produces the very antagonistic relationship that it claims not to understand.

    And of course, it’s all bullshit. When I visited Toronto a few years ago, everyone was perfectly lovely, everything was real, the people were genuine, we were all in the same boat now, if I may make reference to old Bob Rae. A few thousand miles from the place where I was born and raised, I was nonetheless made to feel perfectly at home, put your feet up, scratch yerself if you need to, here have a drink and a pot of stew and let’s watch the Bunker together.

    I agree with you 100% — we all know the Ugly American, but there’s such a thing as the Chauvinistic Canadian too — and yet actually go to any of these places, and you’ll see that people are just people anyhow, and after all what in the FUCK is all this antagonism about, except just the questionable ethics of nationalistic entities that all too often forget they’re made up of actual real-life people.

    Oops. Much of that may have been the beer talking. Gee, I hope it doesn’t all backfire on me tomorrow, embarrassment-wise.

  24. Hey…

    Wait a minute…

    Since when did bashing those two-faced fuckers at the 2008 RNC for their hypocrisy become equivalent to saying anything negative about “Americans”, anyway?

    Heck, how is it even the same thing as bashing “American politics”, for that matter? Did I accidentally rip Lincoln, or criticize the Declaration Of Independence, or something? Did I so much as cast an aspersion on the Electoral College?

    “Freaking out about your elections.” So who’s freaking out? What constitutes freaking out?

    Speaking disparagingly about Mitt Romney and Sam Brownback?

    I think I probably don’t speak disparagingly about those guys enough. But what’s it got to do with “America”? They’re not America, they’re just a couple of flat-earthers in brown suits.

    I used to turn on my TV and see Pat Buchanan talking about Soviet Canuckistan all the fucking time. I didn’t ask “why”. Because Canadian cable companies carry CNN, that’s why.

    Same reason I wrote this post.

    There, that fills out the corners I think. If Pat can call my country a socialist landfill for about a year, I think it’s probably no big deal if I say I think the Republican party looks on McCain as a pig in a poke. After all: it was on TV. It’s not exactly a secret.

  25. Now that I’ve been thinking about this a little more (and I have been, since nothing will glue me to a topic quite so much as somebody bailing on it), I’m actually starting to think I made a mistake in the level of politeness I showed to Erin’s various contentions (though I’m happy with the level of politeness I showed to Erin herself). Considering that the initial “disinterested” question seemed to decompose rather swiftly from “why do you Canadians care” to “why are you Canadians being such dicks about America” — but of course we’re not really being dicks to America at all, we’re only being dicks to the Bush administration and the Republican party machine — then I’m thinking now that my answers should’ve decomposed along with them, from “well, because it’s interesting” to “well, why so censorious?”

    For example, Erin expresses the opinion that Canadians should “get a grip” about Paul Cellucci.

    But the fact at hand is, that Cellucci made himself widely reviled in Canada by his own extraordinary efforts. As a matter of public record, that’s not really up for debate; and so by the same token there’s not a lot of room there to agree to disagree about it. Fundamentally, therefore, that implication of “should” as far as the grip-getting goes is pretty well out of order — I have no responsibility to Paul Cellucci to fix his diplomatic gaffes for him. For heaven’s sake, I’m the one he was diplomatting at. If I go to a magic show and the magician fucks up all his tricks, I might feel a little bad for the guy, but I draw the line at blaming myself, you know?

    Similarly, that I have a lot of scorn for the antics at the RNC is not in some way my fault — I didn’t rise in the morning with a deep throbbing urge to locate some bullshit to ridicule, it was brought to me accidentally. I, after all, did not ask American media conglomerates to sell their wares in foreign markets — it is not my doing if America is a cultural juggernaut. Erin says I get the “benefit” of access to all this cultural-juggernaut stuff at cheap prices, but this is looking at the matter in a rather narrow way: the U.S. also gets the benefit of having the Canadian public as a very large paying customer for its media exports. And this ain’t charity on your side, or even great good luck on ours: you guys want this. We went to a GATT tribunal over having “Canadian” People magazine on our newsstands — we were against it, you were for it, and you won the argument, and now we have it out there competing with our homegrown magazine products just as its owners wished it to do. We get Fox News, too. Didn’t want it; got it anyway. Saturday Night Live makes money for NBC in part because Canadians get all the jokes about Ross Perot and Hillary Clinton; every time I read interviews with Gore Vidal or Christopher Hitchens, the numbers roll fractionally (but definitely!) upward in Vanity Fair’s bank account.

    So, I really don’t think I have to be obsessed to comment on these things.

    And, I really really don’t think it makes me in some way anti-American when I do.

    I don’t even think it makes me sound anti-American.

    Hmm, I guess that’s enough for now.

  26. Okay, now I’m going to come back to this Drug Czar thing. Why? Well, because, what the hell, I might as well keep laying it all out just in case someone ever asks me about this again — I can just point them to this post. The stats counter says Erin’s not around, so she may not be reading…however I see not reason not to keep writing, if only to myself.

    I’m on a tear.

    So here we have this proposed legislation to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana. Means if you’re caught with a couple of joints on you, you just pay a fine instead of going to jail and getting a criminal record. Yeah, why not? After all, Paul Martin’s smoked pot — he said so in a press conference when someone asked him — and for that matter Allan Rock never shuts up about how he scored dope for John and Yoko in Montreal (pretty good story, though). So who really cares? Everybody fucking smokes the stuff, right? Good idea. When announced by Chretien it was greeted by cheers and high-fives by the Parliamentary press corps, and indeed by much of the nation.

    And then enter the U.S. Drug Czar, tactfully weighing in on the matter by likening the passage of such a bill to Canada engaging in chemical warfare on the United States.

    Rather dramatic language for the post-9/11 era? I think so: chemical warfare…say, isn’t that the thing you fight with chemical weapons? Like, oh what’s the phrase, tip of my tongue…like Weapons Of Mass Destruction?

    It’s an absurdly inflammatory, over-the-top, irresponsible statement. “Warfare”, indeed! So now we’re not just a “haven for terrorism”, but we are the terrorists, too? Is there no end to the woo you’re willing to pitch at us, Bush administration? Meanwhile we got Cellucci over here trying to talk everybody into calling their MP and turning the ship of state around for him, because obviously we could not mean for it to be heading in this direction, where the fires of hell are all a-ragin’…and yeesh, I mean we all knew Bush hated Chretien, we all knew he wished Canada had a more right-of-centre government, but come on now, no one told me there was going to be a parade today. So mind your own fucking business, Drug Czar, if that is your real name…hey, do my governmental officials come down to your media outlets and tell you to get with the program on gun control, or something? No, they do not. So you can kindly fuck off out of my pot legislation, if you please…

    But I hear what you’re saying, imaginary reader: sure, okay, that sounds a little fucked-up…but what’s it got to do with the war?

    To which I will reply: may I remind you that we are not talking about the war? We are talking about Canadians butting in on America’s private business by talking about the election that’s going on now. And I am explaining how there are a whole lot of ways in which the States has been all up in Canada’s business, in far worse manner, for about the last eight years, so it really is a matter of what’s good for the goose being good for the gander. Or, more accurately perhaps: it is a matter of the simple fact that if you’re going to insist on calling the tune, then you can bloody well pay the fucking piper. Because that’s fair.

    Next up: the effect of the Patriot Act on man-in-the-moon marigolds, softwood lumber bullshit gets bullshittier and more lumbering, Marc Emery finds that meeting the New Boss is not quite the same as meeting the Old Boss, a Canadian governmental official actually gets her ass FIRED (that’s right, fucking FIRED! Can you top it, America?) for saying something undiplomatic about the States, and Meher Arar gets stuck in…Syria? Shit, Syria? Hey, this better not be a collect call, Meher…!


    Miss it not, True Believer! The rendition is bound to be extraordinary!

    Okay, now I’m talking about America, whew. And you know, I’m almost hesitant to slap this comment up, here, because Erin (should she return) may find my tone to be a tad offensive.

    But you know what? I’m going to put it up anyway, because I’m not writing this to offend her or not offend her, I am writing this because I HAVE A BLOG. And there were several times these last few months when I was seriously considering going much more in-depth on what I think about the importance of this upcoming election…and I decided not to write that post about five or six times, on the grounds that no one (including me) really needs to hear some pushy Canadian weigh in on touchy subjects like how to tell if you’ve voted for the right guy…

    But now…now it seems to me that if I don’t post this comment for fear of offending Erin, that I will no longer, in future days, have any reason to wonder if I should write something more direct about American politics…because if I backed off from this comment, wouldn’t I naturally back off from any more strongly-worded comment? And I must say, I don’t really feel any great desire to post something like that in future anyway, but I rather like the idea of possibly mulling it over at some point, and maybe deciding to or deciding not to on the spur of the moment, unconditioned by any past discussions in any comments threads of previous posts. Once again it is the matter of setting precedent, and policy, and I don’t see why I should do either of those things: I actually have a lot of thoughts about politics that I don’t usually bring up here, but there is no more reason today why I shouldn’t or couldn’t, than there was last week, or last year.

    And one way or another, Erin is plainly going to be offended. Or somebody is going to be offended. And then if I do decide to post some more political thoughts re: America, and someone is offended, then I will just have to re-type this whole goddamn…!

    Ah. And there’s my answer, isn’t it?

    So here’s the principle, if anyone was interested: I reserve to myself the right to be, not just an asshole, but a fucking Grade-A asshole, about anybody’s politics on this here blog, should something happen to get my dander up…and I may go another five or ten comments here just to hammer that point home, if I happen to feel like it. Because I’m really a pretty nice guy…but not all the time.

    It says here. So touch not the cat.

  27. More than that: since it’s your blog you’ve got every right to ignore any precedent that you set for yourself, if it comes to that. After all, unless you’ve got a much better deal than I do, you are not getting paid for this.

  28. Oh, and there’s this:

    So who really cares? Everybody fucking smokes the stuff, right?

    No. Not everybody. I don’t, and haven’t, and won’t. And I don’t think anybody else should, either, not that anyone’s asking me for my opinion on it.

    Which is not to say that people shouldn’t be allowed to smoke it. As far as I’m concerned, people should be free to do all kinds of things that they shouldn’t actually do.

  29. Yes, suddenly while I was writing, your way of expressing what you will and won’t do and write about on your blog came to me very powerfully, Matthew. I think it was the Writer’s Strike solidarity move, and somebody complained about it — I thought your response to that was well-measured. A good blogging philosophy, I believe.

    And, ha ha, well this is awkward…I don’t smoke it either! Anymore. But I’m not against its recreational use at all, and of course I’m ALL FOR Canada developing a good medical marijuana program that makes sense, instead of the punishingly ineffective thing we’ve got now. I used to be for decriminalization but against legalization, for a long time and for a lot of reasons, but my opinion’s changed with our situation, I think.

  30. And, ha ha, well this is awkward…I don’t smoke it either! Anymore. But I’m not against its recreational use at all

    See, I don’t think that’s awkward, in that a) not smoking the stuff is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, and b) I think it makes people like you and me more effective advocates for legalization or decriminalization or what have you, because nobody can say that we just want it to happen so that we can go out and get baked. Whatever our arguments are must really be our arguments.

    Yes, suddenly while I was writing, your way of expressing what you will and won’t do and write about on your blog came to me very powerfully, Matthew. I think it was the Writer’s Strike solidarity move, and somebody complained about it — I thought your response to that was well-measured. A good blogging philosophy, I believe.

    I also had that in mind. And I think it’s pretty much common sense; if you can’t write your freaking blog the way you want it, just what can you write the way you want it?

  31. Amen.

    And as far as being a more credible advocate for not putting college kids in jail because they’re kids in college — please Spaghetti Monster, I hope so!

    I do believe that in our lifetimes, marijuana will and must be legalized. And regulated, of course: but legalized.

    Down in the States, old hippies risk lifetimes in jail by breeding up pot to specific medical conditions, instead of to general high-octane wastedness. We ought to take a page from that book.

  32. I should actually enlarge a bit on the marijuana thing here, as I’ve just recently found out something a bit alarming about it that makes me think it would be ethically irresponsible NOT to legalize and regulate it…

    But I may make that a post of its own, actually.

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