Saturday, December 22, 2012

''Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.'

The title of my post today, taken from Act Five of Shakespeare's Hamlet, occurs in a graveyard. Hamlet begins musing on what may become of one's earthly remains, as even those of the most exalted in life, once their remains have fully decayed, may wind up as little more than a beer barrel stopper.

Horatio seems to feel that such speculation is a tad morbid and unhealthy.

Perhaps the same may be said about trying to dissect the mind of a politician, for fear of what we may discover.

In his column yesterday, The Star's Rick Salutin goes down that dark path in trying to understand the mind of outgoing Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, and while I realize that Ontario politics may be of little interest to people in other parts of the country, Salutin's observations seem pan-Canadian in application:

For the first time in his political career, McGuinty has become humanly interesting because he’s indecipherable. In the past he was politically interesting — for standing almost alone against the neo-con tide of his times, but personally uncomplicated. Now he’s taken all he stood for and could feel pride in: strong public schools, a positive role for government, political support he built — among teachers especially — and trashed it for no evident reason. Then he resigned, losing any chance he had to salvage the mess he made.

While he finds this more than passing strange, Salutin wonders whether the Premier is relying on a U.S. political consultant urging a hard-right mentality that ultimately sacrifices logic on the altar of demagoguery:

So Dalton tells the teachers: Sorry but you’re going to have to accept a two-year wage freeze. The teachers’ unions answer: OK, we accept a two-year wage freeze. Dalton stays on script and replies: Sorry, that’s unacceptable, you have to take a two-year wage freeze.

Indeed, the above scenario is eerily echoed in a piece in today's Star, excerpted from an interview to be broadcast today on Focus Ontario. In it, McGuinty reminds teachers of how good they have had it under his rule:

“There are some teachers who are saying: ‘We don’t accept that [wage restraint]. You must negotiate with us.’ We’re saying: ‘Listen, we’re prepared to negotiate, but we can’t negotiate a pay hike,’ ” the premier said. (Here of course, the Premiere is conveniently ignoring the fact that they did accept the wage freeze demanded.) “Some teachers have said we’ve taken away their rights, we took away their right to strike. Well, they’re striking now so obviously that is not true.” (Here the Premier conveniently ignores the fact that the anti-strike provisions of Bill 115 don't come into effect until the new year, when its provisions will likely be imposed.)

Perhaps attempts to understand the quirky minds of politicians is ultimately a waste of time, since those minds are obviously deeply influenced by the ethos of the organization that they serve, their political party. When they deviate from the formulae that bring them power, maybe the best we can do is accept something that Salutin reminds us of in his piece:

We’re deceived by the lucid, rational façade, by the facts we wear clothes and eat with cutlery, into thinking we’re not essentially primitive creatures whose conscious calculations are generally a fraction of what motivates us.

As Horatio says, in attempting to understand beyond that, ''Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.'

No comments:

Post a Comment