Thursday, October 02, 2008

Nuclear family melt down around the oval debate table

This is the second time in as many months that I have watched television. The first time was the subject of this blogpost.

I don't have cable or newspaper subscriptions; I get my news fix from listening to the radio and surfing the internet. I prefer to read articles from a variety of magazines, in French and in English that I mostly buy used or second hand from St Vincent de Paul.

In the last few weeks, I have also read newspapers. There is a federal election happening and I, as a responsible voter, must be watchful and informed.

The problem is, I tend to pay attention to odd things, to focus on the arcane and to draw disparate occurences together in strange mental Venn diagrams. So while I watched the leaders' debate, I felt compelled to take notes, whenever it struck me that I should be taking notes. Here's my perspective on the event that unfolded on Radio-Canada last evening.

The seating plan was peculiar, to say the least. Why were Elizabeth May and Stephen Harper paired off together on one side of the table, across from Jack Layton, Stéphane Dion and Gilles Duceppe? It sent off a weird dysfunctional nuclear family vibe, especially since everybody knew that Daddy and Jack tried to keep Mommy Lizabeth from joining them because it s'posed to be a boys' night but conciliatory Stéphane said she could be there. And so she was, wearing her lucky sculpty choker jewelry.

Bad boys Jack and Gilles held a spontaneous 'Let's dress exactly like Daddy' monochrome mock-in, right down to the diagonally striped blue ties.

An aspiring pundit and back-room politico wannabe, commenting on his own television appearance wrote: "When you are nice, you look like a decent person and it sets the tone for everything else you say." (I won't identify this blogbrat; he's had his 15 minutes of fame already.)

Daddy tried. To be nice. He tried very hard, scrunching up his visage in a semblance of a grin that silently telegraphed: Nonono nono ... not wearing my furious face, nonono nono.

Which was very, very challenging because Mommy and the Boys were very, very angry with Daddy and they didn't have to be so nice.

Round and round and round went the haggling about the economy, with Daddy holding fast to his NOT American fundamentals and the boys spouting all the important economic words like fiscal prudence, pensions, laissez-faire, corporate tax breaks, regulations - except for these. Then Mommy said something about the neighbours who were all talking about Daddy's bad spending habits:
"In the opinion of the economists worldwide and in an OECD report, the conclusions are clear — Mr. Harper's policies are threatening Canada's future with the decisions he's made to favour the oil sector and only the oil sector."

First round winner: Mommy.

Food safety. Daddy said that it wasn't his fault the listeriosis outbreak happened, he blamed those dirty Lib guys who owned the House before he moved in. That's not what the Doctor wrote in his journal, Mommy and the boys yelled. Daddy said the Doctor was a dirty Lib too.

Second Round winner: Not Daddy.

Gilles was the most angry at Daddy, about receiving the wrong declaration about Québec when everyone else got the right one, about the nasty things that Michael 'Teflon' Fortier said regarding the Bloc, about not having a distinct role in UNESCO, about not allowing French as a viable working language for bilingual federal services employees, about lack of recognition for his province's observance of the Kyoto Accord, about deep cuts to programs that fund hard-working artists and about jailing young offenders.

Third Round winner: Gilles

Stéphane wanted to kick Daddy out of the House, and scrub it clean to get rid of all the toxic things Daddy has done that aren't healthy and green and carbon-reducing. Stéphane said the 'P' word, the word that Daddy won't say in the House because even if Daddy is always blaming everyone else for spreading disinformation about Daddy and his friends, that is one excuse that Daddy won't ever ever use or let anyone else use and that is Poverty.

Fourth Round winner: Stéphane

Jack got a couple of good jabs; you just know when no one is looking Jack sits in Daddy's big Lazyboy chair just to feel out what it's like to be Daddy.

Mommy landed a couple of good smacks on Daddy. She sure wasn't afraid to use the words mensonge and fraude to describe Daddy's petulant claims about all he's done for us.

And so it went, for another hour. I kept seeing flashes of old sit-coms: Stephen Harper as Archie Bunker with more hair and a better wardrobe, Elizabeth-Edith May, Jack 'Meathead' Layton and ..... okay, I'm done with this and I need to get to bed.

You want more? Or you want something different? Then read Kady O'Malley on the next leaders' debate later today, en anglais. That's why she gets paid the big bucks.

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