In the process of assessing George Smitherman, Jim Coyle considers the nature of politics.
It is a forum in which the artful insult of foes is esteemed, an arena in which even – sometimes especially – misfits and nerds can thrive. For those not gifted athletically, it’s the next best way to experience the intense camaraderie of a team, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, the Rudy-like triumph against long odds, the Paul Martin-like frittering away of championships that should have been.
At times, political life can be positively Shakespearean in the playing out of human goodness and foible – the intrigues, treacheries, plots and schemes, the falling on swords for the greater good. Beyond question, the attendant media spotlight – the notepads and cameras constantly seeking opinion – is ego-boosting. In most cases, propinquity to power and the powerful is seductive. Reaching the exalted rank at which one gets to wield power is more than a little gratifying and, as Smitherman has been wont to say, cool.
As William Davis once famously observed, his dullest day as premier was more exciting than his best day doing anything else.