On vacation, Clark Griswold-style

July 29, 2009

Welcome back!

I'm down here in beautiful Cape Breton enjoying a week of "not doin' a helluva lot". I'm just waiting for my invitation to the White House to have a beer with the Prez, but I guess I haven't done anything to merit it. Oh well, I'm trying to keep busy anyway. Speaking of that now-famous tussle between Professor 'Skip' Gates of Harvard and the Cambridge Police Department, most people feel that there was over-reaction on both parts. However, I haven't seen any mention in the media coverage of a little nugget in all the initial media reports of the event. The woman who called 911 was reported as 'white'.

This was guaranteed to launch the news story into the stratospheric 'outrage' factor. What did her race have to do with it? Nothing. But when you have a prominent black leader being the center of the story, you need to complete the equation, not just with the fact that Sgt. Crowley was white, but that....get ready....the 911 caller was....gasp...vapors....white!

So how did the Prez do in his reaction to the event? The answer: really bad at first, but as Obama demonstrates regularly, he moves quickly and turns it into a winner. Within two days of labelling the Cambridge police actions as 'stupidity', he calls the two principals in the story and invites them to the White House for a 'beer'. Not a coffee! Not tea! But 'beer'! [Of course he learned during the primaries that a glass of white wine isn't what blue-collar regular guys do - you know what Hillary Clinton had already figured out?] So the photo-op, kiss-and-make-up session is about to get underway. Brian Williams is squirming with anticipation...

His follow-up news conference to 'calibrate' his remarks (note the word 'apology' is never used). It was a masterful effort to remove his foot from his mouth and lower the temperature on the issue. Note that it's hard to 'calibrate' the word 'stupidly'... Judge for yourself:


Confirming Sonia

So Sonia Sotomayor has now been confirmed by the Senate Committee and awaits full Senate confirmation.* Surprise surprise! She succeeded in not getting drawn too far into specific issues and was able to deal with her "wise Latina" comments. So the only question remained was 'how much damage did the Republicans do to themselves on the issue?' The answer - a little, but not terminally damaging. The Senators knew that they were in a "only one way to go and that's downhill" situation. So they did their obligatory questioning but the deal was done before she sat down to her prescribed punishment.

Walter Cronkite, R.I.P.
The world has lost a great broadcaster with the death last week of Walter Cronkite, who was CBS anchor for nearly two decades (1962-1981). He was head-and-shoulders above what's on offer today. I can't imagine Mr. Cronkite doing that Brian Williams Obama love-in. Speaking of the late, enormously respected CBS broadcaster, I remember meeting him at the Harvard 350th birthday back in 1986,(he had a grip and a pair of calloused mitts which I take it came from his sailing and not his copy-editing!) and we used to see him in later years on Martha's Vineyard, on his sailboat or in Edgartown. He had already become a legend, and his stature has grown even more as the years go by. He will be sorely missed.

Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed
The 'KISS" front man rolled into Ottawa with his wife Shannon Tweed (well actually they aren't married, but they've been together about a quarter of a century). There had been a huge public relations embarrassment running up to their arrival, when Shannon Tweed Day was announced and then withdrawn. The PR debacle was possibly avoided when her friend, former City Councillor Linda Davis put together a dinner for Ms. Tweed. So, we were invited and it turned out to be a fun evening.

Gene Simmons says I'm Too Friendly for Effective Parenting!

I was never a KISS fan, but in recent years have begun watching their TV reality series, 'Family Jewels' along with our two teenaged boys. We were interested in how their kids turned out to be so well-balanced considering the family's wealthy rock-star lifestyle. Well.....when we asked him, he looked right at me and said, "fear". I said, "what do you mean?" He replied, " I only have to say it once and they do what I say." I said, "I've tried that, but it doesn't work." He looks me up and down and says, "you're too friendly. I can tell by looking at you. Remember, it's fear!" Hey, here's me thinking that it was role modeling and stuff like that.

What do I know, I'm just Clark Griswold, right? So take it easy and we will see you back before the end of summer. Be safe!

* correction to original post


"Roll out those lazy, hazy,crazy (wet) days of summer..."

Welcome back and Happy 4th to our American friends and Happy Canada Day (belatedly eh?) to our Canadian friends. We enjoyed a terrific day on July 1st - first at an annual get together at our friends' home in the neighborhood, and then we attended the National Arts Centre's Canada Day festivities capped off by the best fireworks display on Parliament Hill that we've ever seen! On July 4th we will be attending America's birthday celebration at the home of the American Ambassador. Even though David Jacobsen has not been confirmed by the Senate, as the new Ambassador, the Party will go ahead, and it's always a highlight of the summer.

Don't Cry for Him Argentina

Well summer craziness is indeed here. I've been busy with seminars, a court case and media consulting contracts, but not nearly as busy as South Carolina's Governor Mark 'I crossed the line' Sanford, who obviously woke up one day and asked himself, "what can I do to throw a nuclear bomb into my family's life and my Administration?" It is such a nightmare that if it wasn't on purpose, then his arrogance and narcissim know no bounds.

Words of advice to Gov. Sanford

A few words of advice to the Governor:
1. If you have to humiliate your wife and kids, then try to limit it to one occasion, not the cascading series of revelations about your other conquests and 'crossing the line'.
2. Don't quote the Bible as you try to convince your Cabinet and the State that deep down you're really a decent guy. You're not and be humble enough to admit it.
3. Leave now and don't let the door hit you...
4. Your wife Jenny did the right thing by not standing beside you in your strange, self-abosrbed admission. Her daily soundbites from behind the wheel of her minivan are so without vengeance and self-pity, and so classy and restrained, that you can never compete sir. And don't even try.

Michael Jackson Media Overkill

Michael Jackson's death is sad on several levels. Clearly he was a musical genius and pop icon. He was also a tragic figure, confused sexually,a boy-man whose lack of a genuine childhood condemned him to a life of perpetually seeking it. Sad. What's almost sadder is the predictable media overkill. Even television newscasts in Canada - local and network - are leading with the Jackson soap opera.

I have long ago given up on the 'urgent vs. important' bias of news media - particularly television - but this saturation rumor-fuelled media fixation says all we need to know about the 'tabloidization' of mainstream media.

However, we only have ourselves to blame as we certainly have the ability to switch the channel or turn it off. For many years now, it's "all the news you WANT to know, instead of you NEED to know" and we have to work harder to be more media literate and to demand from our media outlets that we want them to exercise balance. In the U.K. BBC viewers let the 'Beeb' know that they were angry about the Jackson over-hype. That's a start. I wonder if North American networks have been hit with the same backlash?

I hope you get a break this summer. Maybe we should all agree to switch off the media until they get their act together? Nah! We'll never do it....and they know it!

Until next time, take it easy, be safe and enjoy life. Did I ever tell you, you deserve it?

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