31 August 2008

MUN Crisis continues

Just because it hasn't been in the news lately doesn't mean that the Memorial University crisis is not simmering away beneath the surface.

You know that because Pam Frampton has another column this week which starts out with an e-mail exchange with the Premier's Office.

The open and accountable Premier's publicity department doesn't think that further comment on the presidential search would be in Memorial's interest.

When she went looking for a few comments from the Premier - likely to come via e-mail - Pam got the usual response from the Blackberry that runs government's publicity machine:  not interested.

If it weren't for opposable thumbs, this administration would not be able to carry out its media relations policy:

The interview is ducked. 

Declined. 

Avoided. 

So as not to have to give an actual answer or provide information.

It is the Blackberry version of government testimony at Cameron.  The talking points have to set a new record for brevity:  "I can't recall."

Rarely has the functioning of human society been so dependent on something monkeys could do. 

In order to tell some reporter to sod off, one does not need the gift of speech. 

One need only be able to click one's thumbs on some small keys in a certain sequence.

One need not have the ability to understand complex or abstract concepts, like the value of sustaining mutually beneficial human relationships through direct voice contact. [The concept of zero, as in the amount of useful information conveyed by the average government publicist, would not being among those unknown ideas.  That's about the only abstraction involved.]

And therein lies the larger problem here.  While none inside the Confederation Building likely see it, this is a sign of the full-on rot which takes hold in all administrations after a certain point. 

They become so convinced of their own immense value to the evolution of the species. They start to think that that their claims issued in written "statements" are not merely profound but universally true; like the Bible but better somehow. 

As they grow weary of the mortals with whom they must deal each day, they start to dismiss them as cavalierly as Louis or Marie ever did. 

In the last couple of years of the Peckford era, people wondered if the premier's media guy existed.  In the days before Blackberry kiss-offs, he just stopped returning phone calls from reporters.

Period.

Joe Smallwood coasted along on the daily stops at voice of the cabinet minister. Down with window, in comes microphone.  Blather for a few minutes and then drive off hopefully after reporter got arm back out of window.

The people in these august positions do not realise what is happening of course.  Their delusion is so complete that they neither see nor care to see the slow erosion of everything that supports them. 

They carry on with petty political feuds among themselves, as if these things were  important, let alone as important as what they were supposed to be focusing on.  In the process, supporters, friends and sometimes even family walk away. 

The whole apparatus of a particular administration can be propped up by nothing more substantive than a CRA poll. To those at the heights, it appears as though the whole thing is magically floating, held aloft by the righteousness of whatever it is they are doing.  They imagine a giant concrete base because they cannot see the real base:  two guys lashing broom handles together with duct tape.

You see, governments rarely fall apart before your eyes.  They don't just up and fall in on themselves one day. There is no final cataclysmic destruction.

They rot.

They decay.

They erode.

There is never anything truly spectacular except at the end when someone from another party finally pushes the whole mess over in a heap of ash.  By then, no one really cares any more.

Until then, there are the slights.  There are the dismissals.  There are broken promises. There are the frustrations and in some cases the outright insults that all remove another layer of the social bonds on which a political party is sustained.

The gotterdammerung - the twilight of the gods - is not heralded by the Ride of the Valkyries.

It is foretold, these days, by a RIM-shot.

-srbp-

1 comment:

Edward G. Hollett said...

Ed, this entry reminds of a great story that the late, wonderful Scott Chafe of VOCM told me.

Back during Joey's day it was Scott's job to go in the parking lot and stick the microphone in through the back window so that JRS could spout off for a few minutes on his way into Confederation Building.

One morning, the driver fell asleep and the car slipped out of gear. Scott kept trying to interject into Joey's monologue to alert him.

Finally, with the car about to roll over the bank and down on to Kenmount Road, Scott had to yell at Joey and the driver to get their attention.

It seems to me there is an allegory in that story now: That leaders who believe only they know all the answers and shouldn't be questioned are in great danger of rolling off a cliff. When Joey's vehicle eventually did go over the brink in 1972, he took much of the Liberal Party with him.

It took 17 years for the owners of that vehicle to repair the engine, hammer out the dents and find a driver whom the public would trust.

When Williams goes over the brink, I think the crash for the PC Party may be even more destructive. By his ABC campaign, cronyism and despotic ways, he is destroying the foundations of the party. Like you say, much of that isn't evident. Right now, the rot is hidden by strong popularity and high polling numbers. But the decay is there, as many loyal party stalwarts know.

The Liberals should get off their arses and get their new car ready as soon as possible, because Williams is liable to drive his Viper over the cliff a lot sooner than many people suspect.

That's just the risk of putting your trust in a driver who thinks he knows it all.

Craig Westcott.