Those of a certain age will remember the much beloved 1970's sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Set in a television newsroom in Minneapolis, the series chronicled life both inside and outside the studio of its many and varied employees, who ranged from the gruff but ultimately lovable Lou Grant, played by Ed Asner, to the vapid but ultimately harmless news anchor, Ted Baxter, played by the late Ted Knight. The handsome broadcaster was essentially a sendup of all those 'pretty faces' one sees on TV who in reality are as sharp as the proverbial bag of hammers.
Reading Thomas Walkom's piece in today's Star about Justin Trudeau and his now unimpeded march to the Liberal leadership, I couldn't help but think of good old Ted. Walkom makes the following tart observations about Justin:
That Trudeau has such charisma is a given. In public, he is confident and engaging — earnest but with a sense of humor.
He presents himself as genuinely likeable, a trait that should serve him well against Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
But the fault for which Garneau once chided him is real. Trudeau’s public utterances don’t have much content. To listen to him at, say, a university campus event is to emerge disappointed.
He sounds and looks fine but doesn’t say much.
And it is, of course, this latter observation that should be of concern to those who see Trudeau fils as the one who will lead them out of the political wilderness. A man long on platitudes (he, along with the other contenders, as Walkom notes, is in favour of youth employment, transparency, openness and democracy,) but shockingly short on specifics, Trudeau and his supporters may come to realize that the so-called 'wow-factor' associated with his 'leadership' will wear thin very quickly, given that today's citizens, when they bother to vote at all, are a far more cynical lot than those who existed in the sixties and pledged their fealty to his father.
Yes, on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, everyone loved Ted Baxter but few, I suspect, would have wanted him to sit in news director Lou Grant's chair.