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  • May 27th, 2009

    Political Scribblers

    Bob Robertson

    My agent called recently to ask whether I was available to entertain some folks after a dinner in St. Catherines. I said I was ready to go. She called a few days later to say that, unfortunately, they had chosen someone else; a local member of parliament, and the reason they chose him over me was that he gave them a better price. He was doing it pro bono. For those of you without Latin training, pro bono means “I’m doing it because the prime minister ordered me.”

    Why, if politicians are now the second-most reviled profession in the world, beating out lawyers for the first time in centuries and closing in on the Sham Wow TV pitch man, who still retains top spot. Why would we want to see and hear more from politicians than we already do?

    This was reinforced today when I read that Vladimir Putin had written his first column for a Russian newspaper. The column was titled “Why it’s Hard to Fire People”. I only read bits of the column, like where he said “I usually call people into my office, look them in the eye and say ‘there are concrete complaints’”. I’m guessing this is from his weekend job running a cement factory. Anyway, the point here is why would newspapers think that we are interested in what politicians have to say? Yesterday, I read a column written by Michael Ignatieff about the Liberal’s proposed EI changes. A laugh-a-minute gabfest it was not. My daily broadsheet has been, of late, jammed up with columns from politicians like Bob Rae or Diane Finley, all pro bono. This pro bono thing got so bad, as you know, that even Sonny Bono, Cher’s old sidekick, became a politician. He also probably wrote newspaper columns pro bono, or pro sonny, maybe. Sadly, he was killed by a tree that jumped out at him on a ski run.

    When I was a boy, and there were wolves in Wales and Canadian hockey teams that won the Stanley Cup, after-dinner speeches were delivered by people who actually needed no introduction and newspaper columns were written by writers, real writers who got paid to write great columns.  No wonder newspapers are in trouble. When the entire editorial page is being clogged up with politicians flogging their many dead horses, all I can say is thank goodness George Bush never learned to write.

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