Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just Another Pretty Face

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.


  1. Lorne: It is going to take a lot more than a pretty face to overcome a ruthless government which seems unbothered about respecting the rule of law and Canadian Parliamentary traditions and which is supported by a base which seems content with having their own noses in the public trough.

    Past Liberal governments had been successful because they were able to persuade the soft NDP voters that the NDP would never form a government. This condition doesn't exist any more with a strong showing by the NDP in the last election and also a strong leader like Mulcair. Unlike JT, Tom seems much better equipped to deal with Harper's ruthlessness.

    Unfortunately, it looks like JT is on track to repeat the tragic mistakes of Ignatieff who had believed that co-operation was unnecessary and that the Libs could have it all. Equally tragic is that Mulcair himself seems to have so far ruled out co-operating with the Libs.

    Perhaps the only good thing that can come out of this embarrassing situation is that it might somehow open JT's eyes that his own support is really not that strong and that a co-operation with the NDP is needed.

    Walkom did sell Joyce Murray a little short because she is supporting electoral reforms and a one-time cooperation with the NDP and Greens.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Anon. I do believe that the next election will yield results similar to what unfortunately occurred last time. I suspect that after 2015, both the Liberals and the NDP will be much more amenable to a one-time go at cooperation; Joyce Murray will then be viewed as having been ahead of her time.

  2. I really don't have a read on Justin, Lorne. All I know is that Harper is a mean operator. Anyone who takes him on has to present a credible alternative.

    I'm not sure Justin is it. But I would relish the irony of seeing Harper defeated by a Trudeau.

    1. Agreed, Owen. But at this point, I think many would just relish the defeat of Harper by anyone; I am just dubious of Justin's staying power.