"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"
John F. Kennedy, inauguration address January 1960
"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender"
Winston Churchill, British House of Commons, June 1940
"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance"
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, first inaugural address, March 1933
"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year, or even one term, but America — I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you: We as a people will get there."
President elect, Barack Obama, November 4, 2008 electoral victory speech
Examples of four giants of the spoken word, men with words that offer hope, offer a sense that things are under control, and deliver that elusive quality that we all so desperately seek, leadership.
And then there is Canada’s quartet of wordsmiths, who between the four couldn’t apparently recite the telephone book without a cheater. With Gilles Duceppe off some where grinning like a Cheshire cat, it was left to the three principles of the drama to take to their stages.
Tuesday night’s offerings from the so called leaders of our political parties provided no rallying cry to a cause, not even a sense of anything to stir the hearts of Canadians that we are on the cusp of a new era.
In fact after listening to the ramblings of our elected representatives this Tuesday night, one might actually fear for the nation, looking for leadership and finding a vacuum like at no other time.
First up the Prime Minister, who faced with his gravest political crisis thus far and one that could very well rip the nation to shreds, he delivered what could generously be described as a pedestrian address.
His very short address, under five minutes it was , provided a recitation of his talking points from the House of Commons these last few days, but with neither little in the way of an olive branch, nor any way out of the current impasse other than full steam ahead on the good ship partisan.
The only saving grace for Mr. Harper was that his delivery was measured and not histrionic, for we have seen far too much of that unhelpful emotional tone in the last 48 hours.
We’ll move past Mr. Dion for a moment, for his performance truly should be our show closer for this entry to the blog, stunning in its delivery, alas for all the wrong reasons.
While we ruminate on the Liberal leaders address, we skip ahead to the always chatty Jack Layton, a man who loves the microphone, and like sonic the hedge hog, was tapping that toe in a feverish pace waiting, waiting, waiting for Mr. Dion to finally address the nation, so the NDP could share in the spotlight.
As is always the case with a Layton speech he was high on the rhetoric, the locking the door behind me a nice bit of theatrical flourish, even if technically it wasn’t actually locked. He was busy offering up his party as the one that will work for Canadians, providing leadership he says that is clearly lacking.
And while that may have some grains of truth and Mr. Layton may actually believe in the goals, he always seems to give the impression that he really does think he is to be a Prime Minister one day, despite all evidence to the contrary election after election.
He talked about focus to get things moving for Canada, all the while as the Parliament of Canada grinds to a halt, stuck in partisan rhetoric and rancor not seen for many a year.
Though to be fair at least he had the good sense to make sure that he had the right camera angles and by the nature of his scrum outside Parliament Hill, he had all the dramatic visuals that one might wish for at this time.
Not something that one could say about the Liberals. Their broadcast featured the would be leader of the coalition, Stephane Dion who for some reason as of yet unexplained by the Liberals, did not deliver his address on the crisis of confidence to the major television networks until almost a full half hour after the Prime Minister had delivered his short and succinct list of reasons why he felt Parliament was stalled.
Dion managed to miss out on the live broadcast from CTV and barely made it into a prime time window on CBC such was the farcical nature of the Liberal’s delivery system. Things have certainly deteriorated at the Liberal head office, which once upon a time was one of the best in delivering propaganda that the nation had ever seen, times apparently so tough that they are left with but a rather poor version of a handicam and atrocious lighting.
Even with the tape rolling as they say, the speech was flawed by a number of technical gaffes; it had the visual presentation of a bad You Tube video, something as if smuggled into the city from the Gatineau Hills where the rebels were holed up.
With equally horrible audio (not a good thing for a fellow that has troubles getting his message across in English at the best of times) it made Dion even harder to understand than usual. Which is rather unfortunate as he made some valid points about politics today, but alas we fear it was lost to the audience at home, or at least those that stuck around while the Liberals figured out a way to send their video to the networks.
In short it was amateur time at the revolution, perhaps the most damning evidence that this particular coalition isn’t ready for prime time, anytime. Mr. Dion’s performance was best outlined by this scathing indictment by the globe and Mail… which didn’t find much to cheer about from the voice of Kyoto’s master.
There may be a few members deep in the back benches of this mighty coalition who may be having some second thoughts, just a little nervous about what the hell is to happen to it next and what the Canadian public may think of all of this farce.
After all, it’s hard to start a putsch when you can’t even get the manifesto to the television station in time to launch the revolution.