Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taking off the Tight Shoe

My late mother used to speak metaphorically of a man so deprived that his only pleasure was wearing shoes a size too small so he could feel the relief of taking them off once a day.
This strikes me as the the kind of feeling that those who bore witness to Stephen Harper's musical performance at the National Arts Centre must have been going through. Undoubtedly well-coached by his usual faceless handlers, the Prime Minister touched down among presumptive mortal enemies within the very bastion of cultured folks whose values and livelihoods his government has so long demeaned. With Yo-Yo Ma backing him up, it's hard to imagine anybody being so churlish as to not give Harper rousing cheers for his pluck if not, nay, definitely not for his talent.

Fair enough, but, as might be expected, the NeoCon pundits were at the ready: Charles Adler, arguably the new Right's fair haired boy du jour, went a little out of control, reading into the culture crowd's reaction, a lighting strike realization that Stephen wasn't really "scary" after all.

I prefer the theory of the tight shoe. Having had this mean-spirited minority Prime Minister for an unthinkable four years of culture-trashing, it probably seemed, if only for a moment, a pleasurable relief to see him acting as if he was really not so bad. Adler, seized the occasion to make the rather mundane observation that Harper was the kind of guy you just might bump into at the Canadian Tire store on a Saturday morning -- an unprofound criterion, since uncaught serial killers and, even more evil in Adler's world, Michael Ignatieff, might also need lock de-icer some frosty weekend and turn up along the CT aisles.

To such as Adler, let me reassure you: no one was fooled; the relief was momentary, and the reaction you saw, merely the classy graciousness that the despised "Downtowners"(Adler's term for what a couple of generations ago, his like-minded predecessor Spiro Agnew would have called an"effete corps of impudent snobs") are good at.

Learn something, Chuckie.

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