Tale of a fighter

CHRIS WOOD October 19 1998

Tale of a fighter

CHRIS WOOD October 19 1998

Fear and loathing in an era of the retread

Allan Fotheringham

The cat came back They thought he was a goner The cat came back He just couldn’t stay away.

—Old jingle

There is something seriously wrong with our world. Our present world. Our current world. Where has invention gone? Innovation? New ideas?

New faces? It’s the Era of Retread, a used-car lot of personalities. All very puzzling.

Joe Clark. Joe Clark is back? The man who couldn’t count in the Commons and lost a no-confidence vote he never should have called? Tie guy who had a staff that couldn’t read an airline schedule and lost his underwear and dignity somewhere over the equator? This is the new visage of the Conservative comeback? Someone help me to my seat We all thought we were rid of Paula Jones. Now, she’s back in the headlines, with a new nose but same old lawyers. The woman who promised to testify in court that she could identify certain peculiar features on the wedding tackle of the president of the United States? Paula Jones?

John Glenn? We thought we had safely pastured off John Glenn in the U.S. Senate decades ago, his presidential dreams long past, content in the obscurity that he deserved. Now, at 77, the first American to orbit the globe is going up in a rocket again. Can we possibly contain the excitement? Save us from this.

How many years ago was it now that we thought we had heard the last of Gennifer Flowers? Now, she’s back in print, back on Larry King, back in our memories. (When asked at the time about Paula’s description of the equipment of the most powerful man on earth, Gennifer replied, “I didn’t notice anything.”)

Fergie. Fergie, for God’s sake. The Duchess of Pork. We’ve gone through her role pitching a weight-control program. And flogging cranberry juice. Now she’s emerged as a talk-show host. Even the Brits don’t deserve this. One almost feels sorry for the dysfunctional Royals, this Oprah wannabe displayed on their favorite channel. Keep it on the other side of the Atlantic, please.

The cat came back

They thought he was a goner

We thought we had seen the last banker jump out the window in 1929. Now, they’re back again, bankrupting the world with their goofy, greedy loans that don’t work. They had recovered their reputation for probity—portly, pot-bellied men with pipes who ranked right up there with doctors and teachers as the most trusted men in society; car salesmen and journalists ranked, correctly, at the bottom of the heap. Now, in the year of retrograde, they are back, looking as stupid as any loan shark, ruining currencies and economies. Remember when they put Mexico on the rack with their dingbat gambling? Now, they’ve done the same to Brazil. Do they ever learn?

No. Welcome back, bankers.

The Reichmanns are back. The boys who went bust in Toronto and foundered on Canary Wharf in London are back on the business pages, as secretive as ever. It’s like the rerun of an old movie.

Everything is being played in slow motion, history repeating itself. Settle in for a long reprise of the Impeachment Blues, last played out by Tricky Dicky Nixon 24 years ago. Another president, another liar, will twist in the wind for months, while the commentators develop lockjaw. Isn’t this where I came in be fore? In mid-reel?

Bob Campeau is back. The guy who grew too big for Canada and went to New York and whose company went bust at Bloomingdale’s is back, with all his rabbit-in-the-hat tricks, raising money in Europe.

1 Do we really need another season of £ Don Cherry, with his beer-parlor phit losophizing and justifications for having

2 the NHL join the World Wrestling Federation? And with a silly little antique

dealer’s attempt at a beard? We think not.

Pierre Trudeau is back, 14 years after nominally leaving politics, two books reprinting his thoughts on Quebec, a two-day university conference analyzing his theories on Quebec, Lucien Bouchard nervously looking over his shoulder lest Trudeau intrude in a coming Quebec election.

And can we stand another Quebec campaign conducted, naturally, on the sub-rosa subject that is not supposed to be on the platform—separation? It might drive the nation back to Don Cherry.

Crewcuts are back. Cigars are back. Or were, at least, before Bill Clinton destroyed the taste of them.

The Liberal arrogance is back, with APEC and pepper spray and employment insurance surpluses and a prime minister who thinks it all a joke, dragging memories back to C. D. Howe in the Grand Grit Era of Arrogance. Stupidity is back in style with Andy Scott, the MP from Amnesia, not to be able to identify the sex of his seatmate who next day turns out to be a close male friend and Liberal fund-raiser.

And do we really need Ben Johnson, 10 years after his disgrace, racing this week in Charlottetown against a horse and a stock car? I don’t think so.

The cat came back

’cause he just couldn’t stay away.