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In Texas, They Have A Name For People Like Paul Martin
The Globe & Mail (Canada) ^ | 3-3-05 | Margaret Wente

Posted on 03/04/2005 7:01:35 AM PST by ConservativeStLouisGuy

(The original "Mr. Dithers", Paul Martin.)

Poor Frank McKenna. Everybody says that, if anyone can get the Americans back on side, it's Frank. But even before he started his new job this week as our ambassador to the United States, his boss poked another finger in their eye. And now Frank's got to explain why.

So much for restoring Canada's clout in Washington. Frank didn't even have enough clout in Ottawa to be told what our policy on missile defence was going to be. Instead, the boss allowed him to reveal that our own ambassador didn't have a clue. Mr. McKenna cheerily assured the Americans last week that we were all on side up here. The next day, they read in The New York Times that we weren't. Our Prime Minister didn't even bother giving them a courtesy call first. No wonder they're convinced we don't know our posterior from our elbow.

Paul Martin promised us that he would kiss and make up with the Americans. Now Dubya won't return his calls (something about being in different time zones, his people explain). Even that nice Condi gave us a cold shoulder. I can't say I blame them. Who wouldn't be cheesed off with somebody who keeps saying they really, really want to be your friend, and keeps whispering yes, yes, yes, until suddenly they say no?

Michael Kergin, our outgoing ambassador to Washington, says Canada's biggest problem is simply getting the Americans' attention. "I could be down here on the corner of Constitution and Pennsylvania and yell the worst imprecations against the White House and I don't know that people would care very much or notice," he says. "It would have to be pretty awful to get a footnote in the papers."

Well, they've noticed. The Wall Street Journal accused us of indulging in "moral afflatus," which I think is its fancy term for gassy effusions of virtue. The Boston Herald, comparing us unfavorably with Vladimir Putin, recommended a good presidential tongue-lashing. The Cleveland Plain Dealer likened Paul Martin to John Kerry, the man who voted against something after voting for it. The New York Times contented itself with quoting our leader, to devastating effect. "This is our airspace, we're a sovereign nation, and you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission," Mr. Martin huffed, showing himself to be both self-righteous and ridiculous.

Personally, I don't have a fixed opinion on missile defence. There are good arguments for it (a seat at the table; no skin off our nose) and against it (it won't work; big phallic pointy things make us nervous). But our "moral afflatus" gets me down. Canada's worst trait is believing the world would be a better place if only the Americans were more like us. Thank God they're not. If they were, they'd still be fretting about why the terrorists don't like them, and Afghanistan would still be run by the Taliban. If they were more like us, and North Korea lobbed a missile at Minneapolis, they'd respond by convening a meeting at the United Nations.

In Washington, Mr. Martin used to have a reputation (among the few people who'd ever heard of him at all) as a stand-up guy. Now he has a reputation as a spineless wimp. At least Jean Chrétien got respect when he said no. But Mr. Martin, who once spoke out vigorously in favour of signing on to missile defence, never lifted a finger to persuade the rest of us. He was too tied up with gay marriage, I guess. He ceded the missile-defence debate to the other side until the issue got away from him, then read the opinion polls and caved in. The Americans have concluded, accurately, that our PM has the backbone of a jellyfish.

Down in Texas, they have a name for people who talk big and puff themselves up but can't deliver. They say they're all hat, no cattle. Condi and Dubya will be polite and smile, but they know Mr. Martin is all hat, no cattle, and from now on they and everybody else who counts will treat him accordingly. How depressing. It's one thing to cheese off your friends on a point of principle. But to cheese them off because you're incompetent is another thing entirely.

That's why nobody should envy Frank McKenna. His job is to get us some respect in Washington. But when nobody respects his boss, it's going to be tough.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: martin; mrdithers

1 posted on 03/04/2005 7:01:36 AM PST by ConservativeStLouisGuy
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To: ConservativeStLouisGuy

I know I saw/heard someone on Fox News mention this article in last night's news, but I couldn't remember who it was (couldn't find it on Fox News website either), so here it is for all to see...

2 posted on 03/04/2005 7:07:46 AM PST by ConservativeStLouisGuy (11th FReeper Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Unnecessarily Excerpt)
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To: ConservativeStLouisGuy


3 posted on 03/04/2005 7:14:15 AM PST by conservativecorner
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To: conservativecorner

Thanka very much..
4 posted on 03/04/2005 7:30:35 AM PST by ConservativeStLouisGuy (11th FReeper Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Unnecessarily Excerpt)
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