Must-reads: Andrew Cohen on anti-intellectualism in American politics; James Travers on the in-and-out; Greg Weston on immigration myths; Don Martin on Rob Anders on China; Margaret Wente on the “wannabe Mountie.”
All eyes on the Keystone State
Pennsylvania’s gun nuts, God nuts and cheesesteak aficionados choose their Democratic presidential candidate tonight.
“If money were all that mattered in politics,” John Ibbitson writes in The Globe and Mail, “Mr. Obama would have sewn up this race months ago.” We’re sure Ibbitson’s told us on multiple occasions that Obama does have it sewn up, but that’s part of the irony, he suggests. “In Pennsylvania, as elsewhere, he has the money; [Hillary Clinton] has the machine.” Inner-city Philadelphia will almost certainly go for Obama, while rural Pennsylvania will almost certainly go for Clinton. The primary will really be decided in Philadelphia’s bedroom communities full of “Reagan Democrats,” Ibbitson predicts, whom Clinton is counting on. “And if they need a ride to the polls, [Pennsylvania Governor] Ed Rendell’s machine is happy to offer a lift.”
Andrew Cohen, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, bemoans the descent of the once high-toned Democratic race into old-fashioned class warfare. Obama “can’t bowl worth a damn and doesn’t seem to like Philly cheesesteaks,” he writes. “So, he’s an elitist. John McCain thinks so and he should know. He comes from military royalty … and is married to an heiress.” Clinton, a “graduate of Wellesley and Yale Law School who was named one of the 100 leading lawyers in America” and who’s worth $109 million (US), thinks so too. The irony of this obsession with anti-intellectualism, Cohen suggests, is that presidents of plutocratic stock tend to be “kinder to the poor than to the rich,” while “the soothing Ronald Reagan and the brush-clearing Mr. Bush cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.”
The Toronto Sun‘s Peter Worthington, who’s been writing some terrific stuff lately, phones in a snoozy preview of tonight’s Pennsylvania primary. He does provide some comic relief, however, by mentioning “the influential Zolgy poll” that shows Obama narrowing Clinton’s lead. (It’s Zogby. Yeesh!)
In all their talk of “renegotiating” NAFTA, the Globe‘s Jeffrey Simpson says Obama and Clinton conveniently forget to mention that all signatories would have to agree to new provisions—and that they would bring their own grievances to the table. This is yet more evidence that both Democratic candidates are simply blowing smoke, Simpson writes, but that doesn’t mean we should sleep easy. “The more a candidate promises something, no matter how foolish, the more that groups that agree with the promise will try to hold the candidate to it if elected.”
Meanwhile, back in our pro-intellectual capital…
Tom Lukiwski got run through the wringer for weeks over his drunken homophobic rant, the Calgary Herald‘s Don Martin notes, while Rob Anders’ latest outburst—comparing China circa 2008 to Nazi Germany circa 1936—merits only a “dismissive shrug.” Lukiwski, like the rest of us, can only marvel at the buffoon’s longevity. And he is clever, no doubt, in holding onto his riding despite “pariah” status both in caucus and among his wealthy constituents. But the Conservatives’ stated reasons to resist legal attempts to oust Anders—that riding nominations are a “private matter”—just don’t wash with us. Clearly the MP for Calgary West has pictures of someone important doing something awful. We implore Don Martin to determine who and what.
Damage control in the wake of the RCMP raid on Tory headquarters will be particularly difficult, the Toronto Star‘s James Travers suggests, because “more Canadians now think they understand Conservatives”—just like they understood the Liberals in 2006. Even if Canada’s lunchbox types are “consumed … with daily life,” Travers argues, “they notice Harper hasn’t explained what was or wasn’t offered to Chuck Cadman,” they know firing nuclear watchdog Linda Keen was pure self-protection, and they know the promised era of openness and accountability in Ottawa has definitely not materialized. And they know, furthermore, Elections Canada’s warrant isn’t just some kind of partisan witch hunt.
Sun Media’s Greg Weston busts a series of myths about Canadian immigration, including at least one that the Tories could probably put to excellent use: “Myth: Professionals and other skilled workers get into Canada faster than any other category of immigrants. Fact: A fully trained foreign doctor will wait an average 68 months to enter Canada, roughly three times longer than a grandmother reuniting with family.”
The National Post‘s Jonathan Kay is intrigued by the trial of Naveed Afzal Hak, who shot six women at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle in 2006, killing one, and is now pleading insanity—a stark contrast to most accused terrorists, he suggests, who “vigorously shun the insanity label as an insult.” But Kay suggests insanity is actually the most logical justification for incarcerating “sworn jihadis.” “By their own admission, [they] believe that mysterious forces beyond human control require God’s servants to engage in indiscriminate slaughter,” he writes. “How is this different from the violent schizoid who gets locked away in an asylum for the rest of his life … for exactly the same reason, minus Allah?”
The Globe‘s Margaret Wente takes a closer look at Ali Tahmourpour, the wannabe Mountie who claims he was racially harassed at RCMP boot camp, and whose claim was recently upheld by a Human Rights Commission adjudicator. In the nine years since his ordeal, Wente notes, Tahmourpour “hasn’t held a job” despite qualifying as a real estate agent and a translator. Indeed, it seems he “has spent most of his adulthood in litigation,” which he claims explains the amount of white space on his C.V. “Mercifully, the adjudicator didn’t swallow that one,” Wente quips. “That’s why she awarded him only half a million dollars.”
On the occasion of Earth Day, the Financial Post‘s Terence Corcoran unpacks his grievances against retailers whose marketing reduces consumers “to being scolded and humiliated as undisciplined squanderers of money and resources.” It’s one thing for the self-righteous likes of Aritzia, Lululemon or Lush to badger their customers with anti-plastic bag campaigns and other eco-guilt trips, he argues, but The Bay is in no position to be pointing its grizzled finger at him. “To be told by a department store to ‘Walk to work’ is like being told by Swiss Chalet Chicken to ‘Eat beef,’” he writes, pointing to the HBC’s many locations in suburban mallscapes.
The Post‘s John Ivison files a quite affecting account of his life as a fan of Queen of the South, the woebegone Scottish soccer club now “emerging from the Wilderness Years (1919-2008)” to take on Glasgow Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final next month.