Friday, December 04, 2009

National Post, first column

“Irony,” said the redoubtable Henry Fowler, “is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear &, shall not understand, & another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware both of that more & of the outsiders' incomprehension.”

In the natural course of events, I have come to write for the National Post’s Full Comment, while continuing to blog on the leftish Progressive Bloggers aggregator. I leave it to the members of each sector of my double audience to determine into which category they might fall.

I expect that individual readers of my blog, who extend right across the political spectrum, will have certain reactions to this new development, as will NP readers. Some of my sparring partners will think that their newspaper of choice has gone utterly mad. Some of my political co-religionists will mistake a beachhead for desertion.

No matter.

Years ago, when I was first running for serious political office in my union, an ally—the then-President of the Union of National Defence Employees—gave me some good advice: “Just be yourself.” Doing so, of course, has not endeared me to some. But I shall try not to think of the fourth wall, and just deliver my lines as usual. I’m counting on my progressive friends to keep me honest if I stray inadvertently into political respectability.

The table is spread. The Harper government provides no end of good material, as its current torture squid-inkery indicates. It’s beginning to resemble comic opera: windy generals, documents with no visible writing, plenty of dirty work at the crossroads, but we all know that the fine tenor Richard Colvin, a slave to duty, is going to get the girl. There is something pleasing about the inevitability of it all, or worrying, depending of course upon your point of view.

And then there are the remains of that once-mighty behemoth, the Liberal Party of Canada, to pick over. The Natural Governing Party, a gigantic machine for divvying up the spoils of office, is now relegated to haring aimlessly after issues of the day, hoping that it might finally grab a juicy one. EI reform didn’t seize the popular imagination—what a surprise—and Torturegate didn’t work either, at least for the Leader, who stayed stubbornly out of town as the scandal broke. Once all things to all people, the Liberals are now flipping and flopping like fish on a deck. And the man at the helm just can’t seem to tear his face away from the mirror long enough to see the shoals.

The culture wars, so-called, offer continual opportunities for comment. In the latest skirmish, some brave defenders of free speech have done a sudden volte-face and cheered the banning of minarets in Switzerland. I enjoy the shower of sparks when irresistible principle meets immovable prejudice.

Finally there are the everyday bits and pieces of life on earth in the new millennium—a smorgasbord of climate change, natural and unnatural disasters, the political ergotism presently infecting America, animal news, poetry, technology, good books and better gossip.

All grist, and often good fun to run through the mill, even for humourless zealots like myself. And so a new adventure begins.

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