31 August 2007

The Spleen

Must be something about a certain breed of radio talk show hosts.

Garth Turner - not someone quoted often in these parts - refers to to rabid rants and "spleen" being unleashed by a couple of talk jocks in other parts of the country Turner is visiting having left the Real Capital of Canada (tm pending).

Turner could have been talking about VOCM's afternoon monologue hosted by a former leader of the Liberal Party in this province who has long since bolted and joined the local Tories. He did a stint as Danny Williams' personal rep to Hy's but packed it in for personal reasons after a few months.

Spleen is something Bill Rowe has no hesitation in venting. Unbiased is something he doesn't even pretend to be, especially when Rowe's former boss has offered up his shell-like for Bill to coo in for a few minutes.

"Premier, tell us in all your unfailing perfection why everyone else is wrong and you are so right every single time?"

"Isn't it amazing how [insert the name of the foreign enemy of the moment] cannot realize they should give up now before you unleash your mighty vengeance?"

We exaggerate for comedic effect but regular listeners might find it the phrases understate reality.

One might easily imagine Rowe is merely recycling stuff he used in cabinet meetings under Smallwood. Not bad to use 40 year old material and still drag in bucks for it.

Try listening as some poor caller dares to challenge one of Bill's stock lines. "Caller? Caller?" he'll interject after a few words have come over the phone. "Caller? I am not following you. Make your point please."

Never mind that the caller made a point in unmistakeably plain English a five-year-old could grasp. Like "I think the Premier might possibly be wrong."

And then after only a few other words, he starts talking over the person who by now might be starting to realize Bill isn't going to let the caller's blasphemy continue against the Accepted Truth: "Caller? Caller? Caller? Can I get a word in here edgewise?"

Rant? There's a reason Crap Talk is properly called a monologue, rather than the dialogue you get with the opinionated but never un-gentlemanly Randy Simms.

What makes Turner's observation timely was an especially miserable performance by Rowe in slagging Stephane Dion during the Thursday episode. Dion's people had apparently made arrangements to have the Liberal leader call Rowe at 2:45. When his meetings when long and his schedule was off - as busy national party leaders are wont to experience - Dion's staffer called to see if it might be possible to call an hour later.

Rowe took this as an excuse to claim that Dion was disorganized and generally to run down both Dion and his staff.

The most pathetic part of Rowe's display was that as a former party leader and a fairly experienced political type, let alone a guy who has hosted radio rant-fests for the better part of his adult life, Rowe knew full bloody well that his characterization of the incident was, in a word: crap.

Had it been someone like Rowe's former boss, one imagines Rowe would have thanked heavens for extra time to vamp on the future guest's various perfections. Another national leader, like say the Prime Minister, and Rowe would be saying anything but the dirty dig he unleashed on Dion.

To cap it all, Rowe then proceeded to congratulate himself for having predicted Dion's victory and making some joke about looking for a senate seat if he predicted Dion would be next living at 24 Sussex.

That column must have come the week Bill wasn't checking out Lysiane Gagnon columns for inspirational phrases.

The upshot of it all?

Well, it turns out Garth Turner was right about talk show hosts, rants and spleens.

If he'd been in St. John's on Thursday, he'd have heard one who teach master classes in the subjects.