Saturday, January 1, 2011

Singing to Make It Rain...

(NB: I consider this my end of year blog-jam so enjoy.)

Unlike the religious right I don’t blame Bill Clinton for much. In fact I think his wife Hilary was the greatest lesbian President since Eleanor Roosevelt. I even have a soft spot for Bill’s daughter Chelsea who, after her gawky teenage years, redeemed herself by marrying a nice mensch in an old Astor estate, natch. With maturity Chelsea has also become the prettier of the two famous Chelsea’s easily eclipsing Prince Ginge’s on and off again escort: Chelsea Davy.

But I do blame Clinton for something: singing politicians. It is because of Clinton’s seminal appearance (during the 1992 primaries) on the Arsenio Hall Show, where he whipped it out (I’m talking about his saxophone, get your mind out of the gutter), that it has become de rigeur for politicians to use whatever artistic talent they do or do not possess as a quick and dirty way to gain political favour with a jaded public. Bill’s big blow was so successful that pundits actually argue that his performance saved his campaign. The gimmicks success proved that musical talent earns quick political points from an unsuspecting public. In the years following the Clinton-era it is clear that war-room strategists who obsess over dips in polling numbers see falling personal approval ratings and think: we need to get our candidate on the View to talk about Snooki, stat.

The Harper political machine has clearly learned a fair bit from Clinton deploying his pianist skills at opportune times. In 2009, just under a year after he declared war on culture with spending cuts and his infamous statement: "I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people at a rich gala all subsidized by the taxpayers, claiming their subsidies have actually gone up, I don't think that's something that resonates with ordinary people,” Harper (with four by-elections on the line) found himself “shocking” the crowd at the National Arts Centre Annual Gala by playing a Beatles song.

The crowd and the Canadian public went wild. With that one twinkle on the old ivories suddenly that creepy dude in a blue sweater clutching onto a kitten wasn’t so scary after all. Harper was just like us.

With the success of 2009’s “Get By With a little Help From My Friends” I can just see the machinations at the Prime Minister’s Office this year, how could they one-up last years efforts? This year the Conservative brain trust had Herr Harper strut across the stage at the annual conservative party Christmas party (which is probably the least fun Christmas party since Hitlers 1941 Christmas Party in Munich – “are there any Jews in da house?”).

For those who haven’t seen Harper strutting his stuff – check out the video posted by the good people at CTV. I love the 3:35 mark at the end of his encore when he appears to be mouthing the words: ok. You can almost see him exhale the huge sigh of relief – he looks almost as nervous as Gwyneth Paltrow did while singing at the Country Music Awards (that’s also probably the only thing Paltrow and Harper have in common, at least until Harper unveils his post retirement lifestyle blog: Hoop.)

The best, however, was the over zealously laudatory CTV commentary. CTV just couldn’t get enough. Watch as Stephen Harper lumbers across the stage like a zombie extra in the Walking Dead to gingerly pat his guitarist on the back, while the CTV reporter comments on how he gets to into the moment he "slaps his guitarist on the back” (Minute mark 1:33). Its almost as if they were trying to imply that Harper is Bono manhandling the Edge in front of 200,000 people at Glasto. Almost.

Because our politicians have the mental capacity of my four year-old nephew so anything Harper can do, obviously Iggy can do better (except win an election, I went there…).

So in retaliation here is Michael Ignatieff, leader of the official opposition, sang some sort of Christmas song for the cameras. The whole 50 seconds is awkward and bordering on awful, but look at the smirk of self-satisfaction on Michael’s face. His thought process is clear: “Haha Canada. You think I’m a stick in the mud. But would a stick in the mud sing!!? I mean, SING!? Clearly I Michael “author, auteur, journalist, professor and NOW singer” Ignatief am no stick in the mud. I am like Diana Princess of Hearts. I am your prince of darkness, I mean Prince of the People. I SANG FOR YOU BITCHES.” And the final smirk coupled with a tinge of self-doubt: “you’re going to vote for me right?”

Thank god 2011 will probably be an election year folks cause I can’t wait until Harper and Iggy unleash round two of their sing-off.

Happy New Year.

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