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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stream of Blather

No, I'm not talking about this blog post. Chacun à son goût. Politicians' tweets:

On June 12, Canada's Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt was at a water park where her kids "had a blast." On July 5, Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant went for an eight-kilometre run to work off the three breakfasts she ate on Canada Day. On July 12, Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh was house hunting in Vancouver and worried the housing market might soon become unaffordable. 

These reports all come from the politicians' "Twitter" accounts, where they offer their "followers" play-by-play accounts of their daily activities and their reactions to current political and news events. 

Could there by anything less interesting than a politician's daily routine? Stream of consciousness is bad enough in literature, where the characters are fictional and can be made interesting. There is nothing interesting in the overwhelming majority of modern politicians. It's not that politicians are not human beings. Most of them are. Some are power and patronage obsessed scoundrels. Powerbots. I know I express the minority view. The vast majority of Canadians assume that all politicians are just a few steps ahead of the Crown prosecutor. 

Having spent many years studying the breed, both living and dead, I have noticed a marked decline in the interestingness of politicians. Those with long memories will recall Jean Chretien and Pierre Trudeau, very colourful figures. This is not to approve of what they did, simply to note that they provided fine entertainment value as they whittled away our freedoms. Bread and Circuses, without the need for a colosseum or Christians.

Anyone can nearly destroy an oil industry, whole industries are destroyed everyday through out the world. Hugo Chavez destroys two or three sectors of the Venezuelan economy before breakfast. Pierre Le Grand, however, did it with style. A pirouette here, a bannister slide there. That rose in the lapel. He was living proof that many women, even very pretty ones, don't so much mind if a man is short, ugly and arrogant. So long as he is rich and the Prime Minister of a G7 country.

With Trudeau you felt there was a genuine bastard beneath that slick bastard you saw on television. You just don't get that from, say, Dalton McGuinty. The feeling is that when the camera lights go off Dalt gets put back into the broom closet until tomorrow's media scrum. To borrow from Getrude Stein, which I rarely do, there is no there there. The image is everything. Tweeting is an intellectually sterile activity. What your teeth do with chewing gum, your fingers do to a keyboard when tweeting. Coherent thoughts are not just difficult but impossible. Could one tweet Hamlet? Or Pericles' Funeral Oration? Or Locke's Second Treatise of Government? More to the point, how can one tweet an image or a spin? A riff on an illusion. Even if one could cram an original thought into a tweet, no politician would be allowed to hit send.

Posted by Richard Anderson on July 30, 2009 | Permalink


Here, here! I couldn't agree more, Publius!!!!

Posted by: libertybelle | 2009-07-30 8:21:57 AM

Publius, the problem is that you are assuming the vast majority of people who elect politicians elect them with their heads, not their emotions.

At election time people form cliques and group themselves depending on what is promised without realizing that inevitably the government will have to rob Peter to pay Paul.

I have a theory that I like to call the group think theory. Basicly it works out to: the IQ of the group= the inverse of the average IQ of the members of the group multiplied by the number of people in the group.

Of course this is totaly unscientific, but I hope you can see my point.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-30 9:42:40 AM

I don't question the emotional nature of voting. I simply wanted to mock the absurdity of politicians trying to "connect" with voters.

Posted by: Publius | 2009-07-30 9:57:26 AM

Is that all you have to complain about? Our politicians aren't interesting and tweet their boring lives?

Posted by: SUZANNE | 2009-07-30 10:37:05 AM

Being a proponent of radically smaller government, I think that, due to questionable motives, people who actually want the job of political office should be excluded from ever having it. Representatives should be frequently and randomly drafted, kicking and screaming, from normal productive activities. This might ensure that legislative bodies minimize or avoid passing laws enlarging their sphere of influence, never having to worry about pleasing voters or other interests. It would also be a major incentive to just not legislate , minimizing the sitting time and resulting direct and collateral damage. A constitutionally mandated sunset clause on all legislation would also help. I know, dream-on!

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-07-30 10:52:18 AM

I nominate John Chittick for Parliament.

Posted by: Publius | 2009-07-30 11:04:29 AM

I second it.

Posted by: Doug Gilchrist | 2009-07-30 11:15:49 AM

I protest the nomination!

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-07-30 11:41:03 AM

Is Publius Mark Steyn? Kidding, but this post elicits the same feelings I get from reading many of his articles: an otherwise good, sometimes even outstanding article, that is sufficiently salted with neo-liberalism as to be indigestible.

Tweeting annoying? I'm there. Dumbs down an already too dumbed down society? Testify. Commies suck? I'm on board. Evil is interesting and therefore laudable? Lost me there.

Let me put this as politely as I can: there may be an irreconcilable conflict in the values of our respective "cultures". Only Quebec could produce Duplessis, only Alberta could produce E.C. Manning (born in Saskatchewan, I know, but made his mark in Alberta), the same could be said of Italy/Andreotti and England/Thatcher.

Greg Sorbara and his staff are reported by Maclean's to wear "The REAL premier" T-Shirts, the implication being that McGuinty is a meat puppet with an electable scarcity of vowels in his surname, for what that's worth.

Posted by: Commenter #54543252 | 2009-07-30 12:50:24 PM

"Could there by anything less interesting than a politician's daily routine?"

Yes, absolutely. Everything on Television and Parliament itself!

And John Chittick has the right idea. BUT! Rather than elect politicians, we should hire managers.
Incompetence and corruption would be punished by either termination of duties or prosecution under a system of justice...
I know..."justice"...another systemic fiasco.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-07-31 6:21:29 AM

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