1t's been a very long time indeed since my last blog posting - must be the pace of our lives - but of course I have not stopped thinking about writing a new post. Laura and I have travelled to New York, (twice), Vancouver, Toronto (many times), Peterborough, Boston (for my Kennedy School reunion - hard to believe it's been 30 years!) and all points in between. It seems that between the thought and the deed of actually writing the blog post, there is a huge chasm of.....procrastination! So, enough of that and let's get to it!
The news is filled with 'scandals' involving Mayors (Michael Applebaum of Montreal faces 14 charges of corruption and Mafia dealings) and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's alleged crack-cocaine smoking). And as if that wasn't enough the continuing saga of Senators and their expenses and residence claims; I commented on Global TV's 'The West Block' with Tom Clark on the crisis management of the issue by the Prime Minister's Office. These 'scandals' certainly grab the media's attention. As with many news stories, their prominence may not match at all their importance in the scheme of things. Long-time readers will recognize this phenomenon as 'urgency trumps importance'.
Hyper-partisanship is here to stay
As we see in political culture everywhere, the era of hyper-partisanship is here to stay. First, the Harper government targeted newly chosen Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau with some tough ads, with the theme, "he's just not up to the job". Then Mr. Trudeau countered with an ad of his own. How did that go? Here is my appearance on CTV's PowerPlay with Don Martin in which I give my analysis of whether or not they worked?
Now the Harper government has turned its fire on Justin again with attacks on his charging charities for for his speeches (and at least one wants their money back). Mr. Trudeau has offered to talk with any of them that may have an issue over their payment to him - probably the only step he could have taken. Of course, there is nothing wrong with charging for one's speech - but it couldn't have come at a better time for the Harper government after weeks of attack on the Sen. Mike Duffy - Nigel Wright file. After all, the best defence is a good offence.
Taunting - and Pressuring - the Russian Bear
The leaders of the G8 nations are holding their meeting in Northern Ireland (and it was intriguing to see Stephen Harper take on Vladimir Putin, in no-uncertain terms over Putin's backing of 'thugs', that is, the brutal Assad regime in Syria.) The Prime Minister seems to have grown very comfortable with these meetings and, - perhaps buoyed by his successful and historic speech to the British Parliament - was spurred to stand up to the former KGB spook and master of the bare-chested photo-op, Vladimir Putin.
Now the Siberian tiger-hunting, President-for-life wouldn't be too used to this kind of treatment. See the painfully staged media interview in which the normally bare-chested alleged Super Bowl ring-stealer and his wife, Lyudmila, announced that they were divorcing. You've gotta ask, 'what took her so long?'
How not to handle allegations of spousal abuse
Speaking of abusive husbands, what to make of the shocking photos of British art collector and legendary ad exec Charles Saatchi with his hands around his wife, Nigella Lawson's throat at a swish Mayfair restaurant? The public reaction was powerful and immediate in the condemnation of Saatchi - as well as of the diners who seemed satisfied to take photos but not to intervene. His wife gathered up her dignity and promptly moved out.
Saatchi in damage control mode
Saatchi scrambled to recover his badly damaged reputation, as follows:"About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella's neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasize my point," Saatchi, 70, said in the statement."There was no grip, it was a playful tiff. The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella's tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt," he continued.
|Saatchi cautioned for assault|
Well, this didn't exactly sound humble, apologetic or anything even close. For such an experienced ad man, one would think he would know that this 'I did nothing wrong' approach is no way to deal with such a humiliating experience that he had triggered for his wife. Where was the apology to her? Sorry Mr. Saatchi, only a fool would believe that story line. It's the classic difference between advertising and public relations. Being skilled in one doesn't make someone skilled in the other.
Mr. Saatchi cautioned for assault by police
Then Mr. Saatchi - no doubt by now with a full-court press of advisors - showed up at a London police station to accept a caution for assault. That apparently unique British legal maneuver gave him the opportunity to cooperate with the police in their investigation and he was right to get himself to the police station in order to be cited with it. One can only empathize with Nigella Lawson and the pain and humiliation she is enduring. Several years ago, Laura and I had the opportunity to chat with her father, Sir Nigel Lawson, former British Chancellor under Margaret Thatcher, when he spoke in Ottawa. He expressed to us such pride and delight about her success as a chef, author and television host in her own right. One has the feeling that she will rise to the challenge of dealing with it - certainly better than her husband.
There's always 'common sense'
All of these issues - from politics to diplomacy to society - are 'cautions' that no matter how much money or political success, one can never replace common sense which, after all, isn't so common.
Until next time.....