29 May 2013

Kathy Dunderdale's Give-Aways #nlpoli

There is something about Kathy Dunderdale’s speech to the Board of Trade that leaves you decidedly uncomfortable.

Part of it is the mention of her grandson  - yet again - at the front end end of the speech.  Kathy told a story about the advice the little fellow gave her in case someone one should break into her house.  This was apparently back in the spring.

Another part of it is the story about the loan guarantee.  “I’ve got to tell you, I never worked for anything so hard in my life as I worked for that loan guarantee,” Dunderdale told reporters in the scrum after her speech. That quote is from the Telegram account by James McLeod.

The story wasn’t about working for something worthwhile.  Kathy Dunderdale is telling you about her work.  The line wasn’t about the hard work that led to the great thing.  It’s about her.  She’s got to tell you that she never worked so hard in her life.

Back in the spring, Dunderdale and her family and her staff carried on as if she as the only Premier ever to come under pressure or have something nasty said to or about her.

In April, SRBP noted the way the premier and her daughter talked about the issue and about Kathy’s grandchildren:
In the past week, you and your mother have politicized your family in a way they didn’t ask for and certainly wouldn’t want. 
Every premier and his family has faced threats.  Some were every bit as bad as what has been said recently.  Some were much worse. Much worse.  To the extent they could, each of those premiers kept their families out of the media spotlight.  You might be feeling pretty lonely and beleaguered at the moment but others have gone through it.  Take some comfort in that.
Ego Politics

Maybe self-centred politicians are just a political fashion of the time.

Maybe it is just that the past two Premier’s are so much in awe of their own awesomeness that they think everyone else is interested in them personally.  News flash:  we aren’t.  What winds up happening is that these sorts of politicians come across has having their head so far up their backsides that they are navel gazing from the inside of their stomach.


These stories are all about them.  Kathy told us the saga of the loan guarantee and the negotiations because some punter on a call-in show made some comment about her. That’s not fiction.  That’s exactly how she led into the story.  So at her big speech to the Board of Trade to announce the next stage of Muskrat Falls, the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador decided to tell us all how stiff her spine is and how much she is not like that guy claimed.

That becomes the only story.

And what they planned as the huge story - Muskrat Falls moves another step ahead - is completely lost.
That's the sort of political genius you get from ego-driven politics.

Go back and watch the scrum clip again. It’s worth the effort.

And when you are done, think of how many times Kathy Dunderdale’s predecessor spent flipping out over a comment someone made about him.  Some old guy writes a letter to the paper:  he gets a personal phone call from the Old Man to sort him out.  A talk show host makes an off hand comment, the Old Guy goes ballistic in public. 

Same thing.

Then compare that to the speech Shannie Duff gave at St. John’s City Council telling us all that she is retiring from politics.  That is one of the supremely personal moments for any politician.  Quitting the game really is a deeply personal decision.  But notice the way Shannie spends time talking about her family.  That part of speech was about them and how they have been involved in her political career, not talking about them with her at the centre.

Different thing.

And then she shot the other foot off…again

The problems with Dunderdale’s speech don’t stop there.  She’s now got yet another political problem on top of the others and like those, the new one is entirely her own fault.

She told us a story about how the federal government supposedly tied an aspect of the free trade talks with the federal loan guarantee on Muskrat Falls, something that wasn’t about the talks.  She wouldn’t bend, Kathy assured us.

And then in the scrum after the speech, Kathy she said that she was prepared to trade give away all sorts of other things if the whole deal was worth it.  On Tuesday, she compounded that aspect of the story in an interview she granted to NTV.  She explained that while she wanted to protect minimum processing requirements, there were other, unnamed areas she’d be prepared to give away.

No matter what happens with the European free trade talks, people are now going to be looking for what Dunderdale gave away.  They’ll want to know.  They will want to know because she has lit up the idea with a gigantic spotlight.  They won’t be looking at the great deal, which is the story she could have told when the thing is done.  They won’t be looking for the massive gains.


They will be fixated on Kathy Dunderdale's give-aways.  If she doesn’t explain all the stuff she gave up, then they’ll just get more curious about why she won’t tell.  And they’ll wonder about the loan guarantee and what she might have given up, secretly, even if she didn’t give up fish processing.

They’ll be focusing on what Kathy Dunderdale gave away because Kathy told them to  in her speech to the Board of Trade.

Just watch.


Misery Looking Up Poverty's Arse Update:  We apologise for any inconvenience the delayed posting caused to regular readers of SRBP.  An unfortunate glitch in scheduling this post delayed its appearance on Wednesday until well after the usual 0730 time.

The upside is that the delay gave your humble e-scribbler a chance to fix a couple of things and also note that CBC has a wonderful quote from the Old Man Hisself (right after Gus Etchegary) on the Dunderdale story. Pairing the Old Man as an authority of the same stature as Etch-a-Sketch: that's  genius. The guy who spent us into the ground with his financial mismanagement and the guy who helped destroy the cod with his fisheries mismanagement blaming others for their their own failures.  Spectacular.

Too funny.

Unintentional on the part of the Mighty Ceeb, mind you.

But pass-orange-juice-through-your-nose funny, all the same.

In honour of the man who led the provincial government into the current financial mess with his chronic, admitted, profound financial mismanagement,  - and as a bonus/apology for the late post -  here's a bit of an old Ray Guy column that appeared in the Business Post in September 2009.  
...A cardinal rule of journalism is never ever lay any blame of any kind on the reader. Shag that. I'm old enough now to be beyond rules, censure or the hangman's noose. You, the great Newfoundland voter, are an incorrigible crowd of brain-deads. 
Are you caught up on the great Hindu Wheel of Life, or something, where you go around, hop off, hop back aboard again - and learn scarcely anything? 
I, for one, am heartily sick of you. If you're too young to have seen all this before, ask your granny. She'll teach you to suck eggs. 
Granny will tell you what happens when you put all or the great majority of those eggs in the same basket. They'll rot, you'll trip or the crows will dive-bomb you. In our case, the tripping cracks are appearing and great will be the fall thereof. 
Wake up, you anti-Christers and stop trying to vote for a second Savior. We've already had enough of the impious bending of the knee in Confederation Building. Too much the sickening spectacle of kowtowing and hand kissing although "hand" is not the word I want to use. 
I've seen it, I've had it, I'm sick of it. Stop the bus, I want to get off. The driver [then Premier Danny Williams] is on the most powerful drug of all, unlimited power, and the passengers are either whimpering or plastered with idiot grins. Been there, seen that, refused to buy the T-shirt. 
"Hey, that feels great! For the first time in my life I've broken the supreme journalistic rule and slagged the reader. 
"What took me so long?"