COLUMN

What in the world is wrong?

Allan Fotheringham April 11 1988
COLUMN

What in the world is wrong?

Allan Fotheringham April 11 1988

What in the world is wrong?

COLUMN

Allan Fotheringham

The two most prominent Irishmen north of the Rio Grande are soon to meet in the White House for their annual palaver. The Jaw That Walks Like a Man will say something about acid rain, and Ronald Reagan will nod and then tell an anecdote about an incident on the set of a 1947 movie. Nothing will be done about acid rain, and Ottawa will issue a statement about “substantial progress” having been made. In the dying days of the Reagan administration, there’s not really much the President has in common with Brian Mulroney.

The problem is that there are no connections these days. Mulroney, who is really a liberal and runs a Liberal-style government, doesn’t really believe all the rock-hard conservative bromides coming from Reagan.

(John Turner, on the other hand, isn’t really a Liberal; he’s a conservative at heart—which accounts for all the confused polls with the bewildered voters.)

Nothing is connected.

François Mitterrand, a socialist, is running for president of France while pretending he is not one.

West Germany and Italy have socialist governments (when Italy has one) and are happy within NATO, while Ed Broadbent’s party—where did he go, anyway?—claims he would junk it. If you’d listen to Washington, the most bellicose nation in the world today is mighty New Zealand, which is not only socialist and antinuclear, but giving the Yanks fits with its yacht challenges.

The Australians are also socialist these days, but very tame socialists— tamer than the Kiwis—but no one pays any attention since most of the world thinks Crocodile Dundee is the prime minister.

You can’t tell any of the players without a program. The Russians have introduced the personal income tax (there goes the neighborhood) and are trying to kill off vodka. The largest

Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for Southam News.

Kentucky Fried Chicken in the world has opened in China, and that suddenly impatient power seems intent on rapid Coca-Colonization.

If you’re not confused already, a highly acclaimed opera has just played in Washington, a new work based on Richard Nixon’s visit to China. If they can make a musical out of The Phantom of the Opera, I guess you can manufacture music from Nixon.

While Turner sinks in the polls, the Liberals are supposedly poised to upset the Conservatives in the Manitoba election. In New Brunswick, there is an Al-

banian-like Liberal government (imitating what Alberta used to be like), where some Liberal members have to be turned into fake Opposition members so as to fake democracy. Poland would be envious.

No one knows what’s happening in Poland, while Hungary and Czechoslovakia are becoming so quietly capitalist that it makes even Gorbachev nervous. Almost no one outside the state department can tell you who is on which side in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras or Panama. Surpassing them all in surprise is Jacques Parizeau, who wants to fight all the old battles over again with the Parti Québécois in Quebec, just when Saskatchewan thought all that bother was finished with.

The only politician Reagan really likes is Maggie Thatcher, who sta’rted her political career by cutting back on school meals (immortalized as Thatcher the Milk-Snatcher) and has now moved to the right of Marie Antoinette. As they say on Fleet Street,

she’s the only real man in her cabinet.

We have this small problem in Washington, where the Democrats felt Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York had too many vowels in his name to sell west of the Mississippi and so seemed to have settled on Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis, who has turned out to be possibly the only passionless Greek in the world. And so they are wrestling with the possibility that if a black candidate by the name of Jesse Jackson shows up at the Atlanta convention in July with the most votes and the most delegates, they might actually have to choose him. Mathematics, unlike economics and psychiatry, is an exact science.

The Republicans have already, in their wisdom, decided on George Bush, a man who, speaking of passion, has Perrier running in his veins and has managed to be vicepresident for seven years without anyone discerning where he stands on anything. This is somewhat disconcerting for the rest of the world, since the other possible president, Rev. Jesse, has never been elected to any public office in his life g and has never run any“ thing save a poverty program in Chicago that didn’t work.

This leaves Cuomo, who says that he’s not running but shows up on a lot of TV shows to say he’s not, etc. And he won’t say that he would not accept a draft because he doesn’t believe in drafts. That make sense? No, but neither does the world. If there was any doubt, observe Israel and Northern Ireland. In the former, television cameras are banned so the beatings of the rock-throwers cannot be recorded. In the latter, the Irish are so open and candid that they let the cameras record how they kill each other at funerals that mourn the people last killed.

No one wants to talk to Austria, where the despicable president suffers from Waldheimer’s Disease (40 years later you forget you were a Nazi). It makes things in Manitoba, granted, look dull. We haven’t even mentioned Bill Vander Slap, AIDS, the return of the Hula-Hoop, South Africa or Michael Jackson’s face-lifts. No wonder the sports pages are so popular.