Maxed out 

A testy, apathetic country gets ready to…

By G.D. Maxwell

Somehow, it all seems so far away.

While the suits preened and danced and huffed and puffed in Ottawa, two bald eagles barnstormed and flew aerobatics over the dimpled waters of Sulphuric Lake. They weren’t fishing; they were frolicking. The notion of bald eagles frolicking in mid-air, looking more like kittens fighting for dominance over a scrap of yarn than raptorous symbols of majesty, was both disconcerting and highly entertaining.

The same could not be said for the Most of the Leaders Debate. No majesty, very little entertainment unless you count watching a man’s lifelong dream slip away from his reach, leaving only a trail of visible frustration perspiration beads sprouting on his forehead.

Watch the eagles? Watch the debate? Oh look, Gilles Duceppe ’s drawing blood. Who cares? What are those eagles up to now?

And what exactly is Gilles Duceppe doing in a national leader’s debate anyway? He’s clearly not a national leader. His party isn’t a national party. It doesn’t have a chance of forming a government outside the parochial confines of Quebec. His sole role in the debate is to play the spoiler, the class clown, the smart-alecky kid, a role any of us can play with ease. If the power brokers at the television networks and political parties can find a rationale to exclude the Green Party – in an election where it will be running candidates in every riding across the country – what twisted rationale can there be for including the Blocheads? Oh yeah… Quebec. Gotta appease Quebec so they won’t take their ball and go home. How do you spell charade?

The eagles, having tired of playing grabass with each other, split up. The larger of the two flies too close to someone’s nest for comfort. It’s hard to tell exactly whose nest because the air is suddenly filled with the eagle being harassed and pursued by two Bonaparte gulls, half a dozen swallows and a crow or two. Citizens Watch in the wild kingdom. Like a pack of wolves trying to bring down much larger prey, the makeshift flock swoop in turn, one at a time, to stampede the eagle out over open water. Several at a time dive into his flightline and the eagle veers sharply off course, tucking his wings and freefalling to lose altitude, levelling out only to have the gnats start after him again. I think he does it more out of boredom than any real desire to raid a nest.

The analogy between watching the small birds worry the eagle away and watching Diamond Jack and Cheesehead natter after Little Pauly or Stevie Hapless is too simple to draw… and not nearly as interesting to see. It’s hard to watch Diamond Jack without thinking of bobblehead dolls. He’ll be fun during Question Period, bobbing up and down to make this point or that, mugging for the cameras, feeling proud as a peacock. I think it was Tim Cahill who referred to this phenomenon as being pecked to death by ducks.

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