29 July 2011

Politicians and illness

A day or so after Jack Layton told the country about his latest health crisis, CBC Radio’s noon-time show opened their phone lines so people could call in to talk about Jack Layton and his struggle with cancer.

Regular host Ramona Dearing chatted with Nancy Riche.  They were respectful and serious, as one might expect.  Some people called in to say nice about nice things about Jack.

And then after about five or six calls something very odd happened.

Well, actually didn’t happen.

No one called in to attack Ramona and the Ceeb for daring to discuss Layton’s personal business.  No one insulted and abused people for calling in to wish Jack a speedy recovery.

And that lack of abuse quickly spread to other media.

That is worth noting for a couple reasons. 

First of all, it puts paid to the excuse offered by long-standing apologists for the narcissist who used to be the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador that the shitstorm of anti-media commentary in the wake of Danny’s heart surgery was just a spontaneous outpouring of disdain for reporters who had gone just a bit too far.  It was a very focused and pretty obviously organized bit of political theatre by a crowd known for their amateur dramatics.

Second of all, what Layton did and what happened afterward are what we have come to expect in this country of politicians.  We expect them to be frank and disclose illnesses that could affect their work.  Layton really didn’t have much choice in this case.  His cancer seems to be serious enough that the treatment will take him off the job for weeks.  The telling bit is that while might have successfully hidden his prostate cancer, Layton chose not to do so.  That is the key part:  he did the right thing.

We, the voters, showed that we can do the right thing, as well and act in a mature and responsible way.  Ultimately, we can lay aside partisanship in order to show some common decency and a touch of humanity.

Not everyone can do that, of course.  Just this past week, an articulate and thoughtful woman decided to try her hand at politics.  Pam Pardy Ghent announced she wants the Liberal nomination in Bellevue district.

Since coming back to Newfoundland and Labrador with her family, Pam’s been a reporter and a commentator. *

She also took a provincial government appointment to a board. That one ended rather sadly when she made a Facebook comment that the narcissist’s coterie decided was a bit much.

Pam would be a fine candidate regardless of what party she opted to run for. But there are still a few admirers of the Old Narcissist who just couldn’t resist reminding us of how much the province has matured since last December.*  They ran her down to the dirt online – anonymously, of course – mentioning only the one pathetic episode that came after her facetious comment bout the narcissist’s wedding tackle.

Incidentally, have a bit of fun and read one of the more popular posts from 2010 on how the Old Narcissist might finally leave office.  it is one thing that your humble e-scribbler raised the issue at all.  It is another that some people took issue with it.  One commenter of the anonymous variety – he uses a fake name - insisted Hisself would sail in triumph through an easy victory in October 2011.  Another who uses his own name and who is a fine fellow, couldn’t believe the Old Man would use Muskrat Falls as his legacy. 

But to get back to the state of the world these days, note the fact that the childish anonymous comments don’t happen as often as they used to.  Once upon a time, not so very long ago, you could hardly read anything political without Hisself’s legion of anonymous arseholes – there is no polite word for them  - spewing their bile everywhere.

Not so any more.

And that is a very good sign that the political disease that once gripped this province is fading fast. Regardless of which party comes out on top in the fall, we will hopefully see some healthy political maturity.

So to Pam, good luck in the fall election.

And to Jack, fight hard knowing that you are in the thoughts and prayers of millions of Canadians.

There is always a reason for hope.

- srbp -

* edit for sentence structure and readability