Watching the G8, or the Two Foursomes -

Watching the G8, or the Two Foursomes


I knew the feeling, but at first I couldn’t quite place it.

It was 2:25 p.m. this afternoon and I was sitting, quite comfortably, thank you, gazing up at one of the big screens in the cavernous media centre in Toronto from which hundreds of reporters are covering the Group of Eight summit.

The summit itself, of course, is happening three hours drive north in Huntsville, Ont., but there was limited seating on the media buses that trundled up to picturesque Muskoka this morning, where the leaders are gathered at the Deerhurst Resort.

So those of us stuck behind had only the huge screens. That wasn’t so bad. They displayed some lovely, languid feeds of the green lawns of the resort, the placid waters, the nicely spaced trees. Relaxing to watch. And, as I mentioned, the sensation of being lulled was familiar.

When the G8 leaders appeared on the screens, wandering on the lawns, it was no less calming. The water behind them stirred, just barely, by a breeze. Germany’s Angela Merkel standing out among the drab men in her jacket the colour of Chinese eggplant, which was set off nicely by the verdant backdrop.

They looked like they couldn’t think of anything much to do either. As if they had failed to book a tee time… and that’s when it struck me. That feeling I was having trouble identifying—it was the pleasantly sedated condition I get into when I’m watching golf on TV, one of the majors, on a weekend afternoon.

As if to confirm it, the camera panned smoothly upward into the branches of a pine, the way they sometimes do on a telecast of the Masters or the U.S. Open, to suggest the loft of the ball. The host broadcaster for the G8 should be the Golf Channel. They need they hushed, reverential commentary.

A little while later, around 2:45 p.m., the scene shifted, but the mood remained the same. A camera inside showed a room, or rather, a set. A stone fireplace was flanked by a couple of real looking trees, one coniferous, one deciduous, which were flanked by photographs of trees. A big red “G8” above the mantle.

It put me in mind of the interior of Butler Cabin at Augusta National Golf Club. Perhaps Hootie Johnson would be on hand. Or Stephen Harper would be interviewed about playing the tricky parts of the G8 course. But he just welcomed some of the visiting leaders by the hearth.

I like watching golf tournaments. I don’t mind covering summits. But the parallels, I think, are worth keeping in mind. If the action isn’t entirely predictable, in both it does follow a carefully laid-out course.

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