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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Press Review

From today's edition of NORMAN'S SPECTATOR (where articles are hotlinked).

US papers lead with the presidential campaign and Yasser Arafat’s condition, except in Boston.

The Palestinian leader is also top of the news in France and the UK, competing for attention with disarray at the EU.

The New York Times’ editorial board weighs in on the Gaza withdrawal and accountability for Abu Ghraib. Tom Friedman weighs in on that and more.

Maureen Dowd says “Dick Cheney peaked too soon. We've still got a few days left until Halloween.” Jim Rutenberg reports that bloggers are annoying mainstream journalists. Pity.

The Washington Post’s editorial board comments on the missing Iraq explosives.

George Will assesses the presidential campaign and the state of the nation. David Broder says next Tuesday will tell the tale on both.

Richard Cohen is voting for Kerry. Jim Hoagland says if he wins, Iraq will become Kerry’s war.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board comments on intelligence reform.

Margaret Carlson criticizes the Catholic attack on John Kerry. Max Boot says there’s not much difference between the two candidates.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board looks at the UN’s oil for food scandal. Steve Forbes weighs in on the presidential campaign:

“We need a renewed Reaganesque revolution. So which candidate is the most likely Reaganite reformer? John Kerry? To ask the question is to answer it -- with gales of laughter. President Bush, on the other hand, has a program as radical as Reagan's was.”

At home, Paul Martin’s veracity was challenged again at the Gomery Inquiry. Mercifully, the Copps confrontation seems to have come to a conclusion, with Greg Weston skewering the loser.

On the other hand, after a day of he said/he said, the PM was in full retreat on the Newfoundland clawback.

In their post-QP chat, Don Newman and Susan Bonner tried their best to help the beleaguered man who’s responsible for the CBC’s transfer payments, too, agreeing several times that equalization is very complex. To anyone who’s spent any time in Ottawa, however, it’s abundantly clear what happened.

In the heat of an election campaign, the PM made an imprudent promise that would radically change the nature of the equalization program. The boys and girls at Finance were appalled; Paul Martin, as a former finance minister, should have known better, but politicians will be politicians.

Once the election was over—short of a majority notwithstanding one additional Newfoundland Liberal MP, plus the Tory who ratted before the vote and is now threatening to re-rat—Finance attempted to recover lost ground by building verbal fences around Martin’s open-ended commitment.

The letter from Ralph Goodale to Danny Williams is replete with bureaucratic weasel words--three times repeating that Martin’s undertaking was to improve the benefits or to ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador "receives greater financial benefits," rather than to ensure they received 100% of the provincial oil revenues, without clawback.

Danny Millions is no idiot, especially when it comes to Billions, and he dramatically raised the stakes by playing the Newfoundland nationalism/victimization card. He’s now got Paul Martin—staring at defections from his caucus and a wipe-out on the Rock in the next election--by the short and curlies. The dénouement will not be pretty.

The Globe and Mail fronts the Martin/Williams spitting match (the best report—the one that should figure in Question Period--is stuffed inside the Toronto Star), along with Arafat, Mohammed Elmasry, the situation of Saskatchewan aboriginals and Italians thanking Canadian liberators.

Inside the Globe, Timothy Appleby speculates on who/what comes after Arafat. TV critic John Doyle serves up his list of Most Irritating Canadians:

“1) The Canadian Tire Guy; 2) Ben Mulroney; 3) Cheryl Hickey; 4) Gordon Pape; 5) Paul Martin; 6) Jian Ghomeshi; 7) Everybody in the Ultramatic bed commercial; 8) Ralph Klein; 9) Tanya Kim; 10) Don Cherry.”

Here’s a sample of Doyle’s terrific writing:

“Cheryl Hickey has an exclusive contract with Global as a network entertainment host/anchor. This is excellent news. She's only appearing on Global. Her insane peppiness about 10th-rate American entertainment crap and her self-conscious I'm-a-babe-on-Global routine will not appear anywhere else. Gordon Pape's endless CHIP reverse-mortgage commercials are the most hideous incarnation of advertising on Canadian television since the legendary “It's Patrick . . .” commercials. Paul Martin is what he is. Look up “disappointment” in the dictionary, and there's his picture. Jian Ghomeshi really annoys people. The vitriol that has been sent to TV Cranny about him is now being used in a handbook about obscenity issued to aspiring journalists. The Cranny has heard from people who found him irritating 15 years ago.”

Speaking of terrific writing, Margaret Wente is back home and on a book tour but her column is still back in the Orient:

“The China story is a clear rebuke to the anti-globalization crowd. By throwing its doors open to the multinationals, the country is lifting millions of people out of poverty. The multinationals bring their know-how, their equipment and their supply chains, and the Chinese use it to bootstrap themselves into the world economy.” Take that, Naomi Klein.

John Ibbitson must be watching a different Parliament from the one I’ve been seeing; one of us is in cloud cukooland:

“With this week's agreement to enhance the equalization program ( Newfoundland 's angst notwithstanding), Prime Minister Paul Martin has demonstrated that the Liberals are able, as well as willing, to implement their election agenda. After almost a year of confusion and misdirection, the government has found its feet. It knows what it wants to do and how it plans to go about doing it.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, have been anything but idle. Stephen Harper has reorganized his shadow cabinet and laid out a plan of attack in the House. The Opposition is coherent and cohesive in a way not seen since the early 1990s.”

Culture columnist Russell Smith probably thinks his generation invented sex, too, judging from this passage:

“Compare the stereo systems of wealthy older people with those of impoverished students. People over 50 may have leather sofas and Persian rugs, but they are perfectly happy with a little boombox in the kitchen (for listening to the news). This is inconceivable to a generation which expects a sound track to every daily activity, including work and conversation.”

Lawrence Martin says John Kerry would not retreat from Iraq, and that George Bush is lying about almost everything:

“Even if he wins re-election on Tuesday, victory will represent no great triumph for Mr. Bush. It will mean he will have to live in the spotlight of his lies for another four years. His deceptions will be increasingly exposed. The trap he has set for himself will ensnare him.”

It’s a good day for the Globe’s editorial board, in my humble opinion.

One editorialist is encouraged by demos in Baghdad:

“But if even Margaret Hassan is vulnerable to the kidnappers, many Iraqis are saying, an unacceptable line has been crossed. If that sentiment helps rob the Islamist extremists of the tacit support and acquiescence they rely on for cover, this may indeed turn out to have been a turning point.”

Another editorialist reviews the Stonechild report:

“Poor training and supervision, and the lack of native officers and of an arm's-length system of police oversight — these are the shortcomings pointed up by the inquiry. Some have now been addressed. In the end, a police force that allows anyone to be dehumanized, and that does not insist on professionalism at all times, will bring more tragedies upon itself and its community.”

A third editorialist looks at France’s anti-veil law:

“Three teenage Sikhs in a suburban Paris high school were barred from class for wearing a keski, a small turban. Sikh leaders say it is not the turban or keski but the uncut hair beneath it that is the religious symbol. If their hair were not covered the Sikh students would be in violation of the law against conspicuous religious symbols. Will France require Sikhs to cut their hair as a condition of remaining in public schools?”

The Toronto Star fronts Mitch Potter on Yasser Arafat and his potential successors. Tim Harper reports on the presidential campaign. Inside, Potter reports on Ariel Sharon’s speech in Jerusalem.

The editorial board pans Danny Williams and plumps for a review of the equalization formula. To hammer home the point, the Star re-prints Joey Smallwood’s pro-Confederation speech.

On missile defence, Jim Travers writes,

“Martin is playing for time while very discreetly cheering for John F. Kerry.” Haroon Siddiqui sees parallels between the US in Iraq and the USSR in Afghanistan.

The National Post, Ottawa Citizen and Montréal Gazette front Arafat; the Post and the Gaz feature a radio station run by elementary school students that Ottawa has shut down.

The Gaz and the Citizen feature the World Series. The Citizen also fronts Mohamed Harkat and Mohammed Elmasry.

The Post also fronts the presidential campaign, the doctor shortage, and Don Martin on Paul Martin’s upcoming appearance at the Gomery Inquiry,

“The most truthful point made by Prime Minister Paul Martin on the scandal to date is that John Gomery will get to the bottom of the sponsorship scam. It will be of considerable irony if he gets there to find Martin standing there with a tilt in his halo.”

Inside the Post, L. Ian Macdonald pans Stephen Harper’s Belgium-blathering and Adam Radwanski says they’re all behaving like high school-kids in a model Parliament. The editorial board supports Ontario's pit bull ban.

The Gaz editorial board likes the equalization deal, and approves of Ariel Sharon’s refusal to hold a referendum on the Gaza pull-out. The Edmonton Journal approves Ralph Klein's performance at the meeting.

In the Post, William Watson explains equalization and the editorial board says the deal makes things worse and Danny Williams would make it worser. John Ivison agrees:

“at the end of the day, no Canadian taxpayers should be helping to support those from a province that is better off than their own. Even PT Barnum, the man credited with the phrase ''there's a sucker born every minute,'' would have trouble selling that deal.”

As I said, this will not be pretty.

Posted by Norman Spector on October 28, 2004 | Permalink


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Tracked on 2005-06-20 4:22:19 AM


If that's terrific writing, how can I get a job at the Globe? The word "commercial" used twice in the same sentence? The redundant "She'll only be appearing on Global" explanation of his own joke? The corny "look him up in the dictionary" cliche? And who the hell is the "legendary Patrick" when he's at home?

Doyle was obviously hired to satisfy some secret "funny looking guy" quota. Because he sure can't write.

Posted by: Kathy Shaidle | 2004-10-28 9:46:24 AM

You can send your application to 444 Front Street West, Toronto.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2004-10-28 11:55:41 AM

No way. They can come to me.

Posted by: Kathy Shaidle | 2004-10-29 8:44:55 AM

Of course, there are other TV writers out there...

Posted by: rick mcginnis | 2004-10-29 10:43:43 AM

Let's hope it's a shorter wait than for Steyn.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2004-10-29 10:44:25 AM

Doh! sorry Rick--you've got seniority!

Posted by: Kathy Shaidle | 2004-10-29 10:48:13 AM

If you don't like Doyle, you can try Zerbisias.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2004-10-29 12:58:25 PM

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