It's another political blog - but this'll be the last one for a while because our election is next week. Here is "Past Deadline" from the Wednesday, Oct. 8/08 issue of The Perth Courier.
Armchair Express™ seeks parking space
I can’t help myself. I have to comment on the federal leaders’ debate. It’s the last hurrah for the Armchair Express™ before the election, after all.
I watched most of the English debate last Thursday, quelling the urge to make some popcorn and wear a chicken hat. I have no idea who “won,” really. Do you? There were lots of winning moments, though, and here are a few:
Sincerest-Looking Politician: Stéphane Dion (Liberal). There is no doubt about this. When he looked into the camera with those soulful eyes and spoke earnestly about things, I truly believed he meant every single word of whatever it was.
Politician Who Looks Most Like Batman’s Joker: Stephen Harper (Conservative). When he tries too hard to smile his lips go kinda funny – they get really long and slippery looking. That probably explains why he doesn’t smile much. Couple that feature with his iron-on hairdo and voila! The Joker. Except I think the Joker has more fun.
Award for Looking Slightly Cagey: Stephen Harper. Probably this goes hand in hand with the Joker look. Someone really should tell Harper to look into the camera more and work on that weird smile. Sweaters won’t help you if you look cagey.
Politician Bringing the Most Credibility to a Party: Elizabeth May. Hey – the Green Party isn’t a one-trick pony! May spoke intelligently on all subjects. And to think Harper and Jack Layton (NDP) almost didn’t let her play in the sandbox. The debate wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun.
Most Likely to Be a Caricaturist’s Dream or a Spitting Image Puppet: Elizabeth May. I think it’s the teeth. She’s got a great face for political cartoons.
Topic Most Likely to Make the Armchair Express™ Feel All Warm and Fuzzy: A green economy. The first 30 minutes or so when everyone except Harper made it clear they believe a strong economy and new green initiatives can actually go together were darned near musical. They used words like “new economy” and “modern economy” and “reality.” I’m just not convinced Harper’s don’t-worry-be-happy approach is a big seller.
Award for Best Hiding Spot for a Platform Plank: Stephen Harper. He was asked several times to produce something concrete on the economy, but didn’t seem to have much beyond “tax cuts” to offer. May wondered why he asked for extra time in the debate to talk about the economy. Layton accused him of hiding his platform “under his sweater,” which is particularly funny if you find the overuse of sweaters and sweater vests in this campaign to be a bit nauseating, and possibly disconcerting. I do. I don’t care what the prime minister wears to look casual.
Best Dressed: I have no idea, really. At least no one was actually wearing a sweater.
Grace Under Fire Award: Stephen Harper. I don’t think Harper loses his cool much. Perhaps warmth just doesn’t come naturally to him, which is why he is forced to wear so many sweaters. In any event, he was relentlessly attacked by his opponents and his head didn’t go spinning off of his shoulders or anything, even when the questions were decidedly anti-Harper. It did seem a little odd for the moderator, Steve Paikin, to ask the other candidates if Harper and the conservatives are barbarians due to their cuts to arts and culture programs. Although I like the word “barbarians,” I would have rephrased the question: “So, Mr. Harper, not a big fan of galas I hear?”
Best Lines of the Night: One of my favourites was Dion’s disgusted, dismissive wave at Harper with an emphatic, “Do not believe this man!” I also liked when Layton commented on there being many successful provincial NDP governments in history, adding (to Dion), “Well, Rae is with you guys now,” with reference to the much-maligned Ontario NDP government under now-Liberal Bob Rae. Gilles Duceppe (Bloc Quebecois) provided comic relief for the Beavis and Butthead set by repeating the word “turd” over and over again.
Most Restrained Leader: It’s a tie between Elizabeth May and Stephen Harper. Sometimes, as they sat elbow to elbow, I suspected they were kicking each other under the table. I bet they at least wanted to push each other out of the sandbox.