COLUMN

May your best friend fail, too

Allan Fotheringham March 9 1987
COLUMN

May your best friend fail, too

Allan Fotheringham March 9 1987

May your best friend fail, too

Allan Fotheringham

COLUMN

This is, it says here, a great year for optimists. Too many people are down in the mouth, whining and complaining about their children’s university fees, the onslaught of AIDS and the lack of clerks in department stores. There is too much despair over morons who insist on getting stuck in the middle of intersections against the light and plumbers who charge the same rate as brain surgeons. Too many objections about people who get on airplanes wearing jogging suits and those other unprintables who walk their dogs so their dogs can fertilize your lawn.

One should not complain, it says here, one should not despair. Our shining examples are before us, above us, as a matter of fact, the daring figures who run our world. Take a peek at our finest leaders and how they conduct their affairs, and henceforth stop bitching.

These guys really know how to screw up. Let us gaze at the most powerful man in the world, Ronnie Rambo, master of almost all he surveys. He has at his command an army of aides, flunkies, sycophants, a cabinet speckled with powerful millionaires, private jets, private helicopters, speech-writers, flacks, door polishers, a devoted and loving wife, the leaders of most of the world’s other nations at his beck and call, dying for an invitation to the White House either for a state dinner or popcorn and an old movie, whichever, whatever.

So? We have just had adequate evidence, a little more than we really wanted, that this guy couldn’t organize his lunch. In the most polite terms, his own handpicked Tower commission concluded that the aged movie star didn’t have the faintest idea what his minions were doing while he slept in the Ovaltine Office. It is consolation, badly needed, for those of us who procrastinate on the Visa bill and doddle about taking out the garbage. The most important bloke in the world is no better. It is somehow comforting.

Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for Southam News.

No one takes comfort in another’s troubles, as we were all taught at mother’s knee. In fact, that is hooey. It is a deplorable (but sadly true) fact of life that a little shiver of delight creeps up one’s spine on hearing about the troubles of another. As some morbid but wise philosopher of our age counseled, it is not enough that you succeed—your best friend must fail.

It is through this prism that we view the current torture of the President of the Excited States of America and the Prime Minister of Canader. They are no better than us. Faced with taking

out the garbage immediately after supper, they would delay also—and then forget. The present muck-ups on Pennsylvania Avenue and Sussex Drive, in fact, are exemplary for the soul of the common twits who populate both nations. We can’t be all that bad if these guys, under research, prove to be so dumb.

Fess up. If you sat down in your Naugahyde LazyBoy and tried to invent it, you really couldn’t in 20 years think up a way to mangle tainted tuna, give the F-18 to the wrong city, put a prison in the wrong riding, send Roch LaSalle to the wrong dinner and pretend that Sine Stevens and Doreen never talked on the pillow. Give us a break.

Reclining before the fire, even with a little Jack Daniel’s to clear your sinus, could you conjure up a situation where a crazed Vietnam veteran in the White House basement, armed with a computer and a luscious blonde secretary, could use a numbered Swiss bank

account to ship missiles to the sworn enemy Iran through Israeli and Arab arms dealers for a scam that landed the illegal profits with a rag-tag gang of rebels in a Central American jungle? Of course you couldn’t, even with a second Jack Daniel’s. But the big guy, the Gipper himself, somehow managed to let it happen.

This is our point, this being a serious exercise in morality, as always on this page. These guys are our servants, as all the political science texts tell us in high school—elected at the will of the populace. The supposed aim is that they will fulfil the democratic purpose of the voters.

My contention is that they serve yet another— perhaps more valuablepurpose. They are role models: role models in that they demonstrate that even Homer nods, that we all have feet of clay, not excluding those whose feet rest in private jets. We all take sly comfort when those on high are in deep doo-doo. Scrape it off your foot as you will, it’s evidence that they also have to walk in o the park where we stroll.

£ Canadian voters, just t as they feel slightly “ guilty for what they did to Joe Clark, felt a trifle edgy about giving Mr. Mellowrooney those astonishing 211 seats and so are now trying to readdress the situation. American voters, in retrospect realizing that no president should have been given 49 of 50 states holus-bolus, are now doing the inevitable retraction of their affections. It is helped a lot by the evidence, now out, that the dreamy old guy not only paid no attention to what his underlings were doing but doesn’t even remember when he forgot.

Not to worry. We all nod off before the fire after din-din. What is instructional—and very useful—is that these boys on high are just as bad as you and I. They have bad judgment. They delay. They are softies and can’t fire anyone. They’re nagged by their wives—as to who to sack and who not to. In essence, they’re human. It’s good to learn they’re down on the dung heap with the rest of us. They don’t like to take the garbage out after supper either.