Mark Steyn: What do you get when you cross Barbra Streisand, a mongoose and John Major's underpants? [A delicious bit of writing]greenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
You need leaders who can rise to the occasion Mark Steyn National Post
Thursday, October 03, 2002
What do you get when you cross Barbra Streisand, a mongoose and John Major's underpants?
You get this column.
First things first: in Tuesday's National Post Anne Kingston wrote about the revelations in Britain last weekend that the former prime minister had had a four-year affair with Edwina Currie, a brassy self-promoting health minister. Up until last week, my colleague wrote, Mr. Major's image was that of "a boring family man ridiculed for tucking his shirt into his boxers."
It's important for the historical record that the National Post correct this deplorable error. Mr. Major did not tuck his shirt into his boxers but into his briefs -- or, as he would say, Y-fronts. I can personally confirm this. A few years ago, I happened to be standing behind the man when he bent over and I could tell from the Visible Panty Line.
That's about the extent of my knowledge of the now notorious sex fiend. I didn't get a sufficiently close front view to be able to confirm or deny the interesting assertion in Sarah Sands' Daily Telegraph column: "A sociable male Tory once told me en passant over lunch that John Major was spectacularly endowed." Judging from the curious photograph on page A13 in yesterday's Post, Tony Blair apparently used his speech at the Labour Party conference to address this vital issue and give his own estimate:
But even the best things come to an end, and, cast off into personal and political banishment, poor Edwina was left to make do with lesser men. As Cole Porter so poignantly wrote:
"There's no love song finer
But how strange the change
From Major to minor."
By now you're probably sighing, oh, come on, Steyn, you're not going to do John Major penis gags until the foot of the page, are you? What about Iraq, the Throne Speech, the real issues?
Bear with me. Mr Major's manhood is merely the springboard to my larger point. Edwina's account of their affair confirms two things about the grey man of British politics: his ruthlessness and his vanity. In bouncing Thatcher for Major in 1990, the Tories were opting for a quiet life. Mr. Major's father had been a trapeze artist and it was said of young John that he was the only boy in history to run away from the circus to join an accountancy firm. After the bravura highwire thrills of the Thatcher years, that's what the party wanted: dull, decent John, with his quiet, understated English enthusiasm for cricket and warm beer.
The trouble was he wasn't like that. Mr Major may have been spectacular in the trouser department, but in every other he was a small man: arrogant, petty, stubborn and vindictive. His smallness led him into evasive formulae on critical issues like the European Union. He shattered his party over it and it's an open question whether it will ever recover. Along the way many of the most talented British Conservatives wound up getting screwed by Big John quite as comprehensively as Edwina was.
Which brings us to Canada. Like John Major, Jean Chrétien sold himself to the country as the p'tit gars -- hockey not cricket but otherwise, after Thatcher and Mulroney, both men supposedly subscribed to the Stanley Baldwin school of modest managerial Prime Ministership: "Safety First." Unfortunately, "da liddle guy" is also chiefly distinguished by his smallness. On Monday, his last (?) Throne Speech was delivered by the Governor-General. You may be wondering why the vice-reine got to read out the woozy platitudes when Her Majesty herself was scheduled to touch down four days later. That's because M. Chrétien was miffed at having to enter Westminster Abbey by a side door (as the Sovereign's other Prime Ministers did) at the Queen Mum's funeral and so determined to exact a quintessentially petty revenge by denying Her Majesty the routine courtesy of a jubilee Throne Speech.
Is bitching about your seat at a funeral the act of a regular guy? Some men, it is said, "grow in office." M. Chrétien has shrunk the office to fit his own stunted perspective. And, indeed, not just the office, but the very state. Merely the latest example is his announcement that he will "complete" his "term," a constitutional abomination unknown to our history. A Prime Minister has no "term": he serves at the pleasure of the House of Commons, and that pleasure can be withdrawn in five years or tomorrow. This is a constitutional coup and, if they had a shred of self-respect, da liddle guy's eunuch backbenchers would rise up and toss him out on Monday.
But they won't, because, under the Liberal-degraded variant of Westminster democracy practised here, Canada's not so much a one-party state as a one-man state.
By now you're probably sighing, oh, come on, Steyn, not the corroded state of Canadian democracy. When are you going to get back to the real issues, like the size of John Major's penis?
Bear with me. Our chums at Southam have been running an exhaustive series about the organs of our diseased Dominion. "Canada seems to be sleepwalking towards disaster," said the political scientist Ned Franks in Sunday's Ottawa Citizen, before realizing that, with metaphors like that, the entire 128-part series was sleepwalking towards disaster. "Or, to use another metaphor," he continued, "the Canadian government seems to be paralyzed, a cobra hypnotized by the mongoose of disunity and unable to arouse itself."
That's more like it! Poor old Canada, where the bluebird of happiness has mutated into the mongoose of disunity. Something to do with greenhouse gas emissions, no doubt. The idea of the government as a cobra is brilliant. But, if the government's a cobra, do we really want to rouse him and let him sink his fangs into us? A cobra paralyzed by a mongoose is a fine image of checks and balances in government. The problem in Canada is that we have a chronic shortage of mongoose (mongeese?) and so the cobra has the run of the joint. Or perhaps the cobra is Canada and the mongoose is the Prime Minister's vanity. And the only question is how long the mongoose can successfully hypnotize the cobra before we finally break free and spit in his eye. Eighteen months might be pushing it.
Anyway, I'm forwarding the mongoose of disunity to Barbra Streisand. Barbra's looking for a new quote now that her old one's blown up in her face. She, her writers and an entire Democratic audience made fools of themselves the other day when, in the midst of a speech at a high-price fundraiser, Barbra read out a piece of obviously phoney, cliché-ridden, Tony Curtis-in-a-codpiece thee-and-thou-ing under the misapprehension that it was the work of the Bard, from Julius Caesar:
"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind ... And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry."
Does that sound remotely like Shakespeare? How come a roomful of smart Dems who endlessly mock the stupidity of George W. Bush doesn't contain one guy who can spot an obvious Internet hoax?
But by now Barbra was in full flood: "I find George Bush and Dick Cheney frightening, Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft frightening," etc., etc. Beware the recording artist who goes on about people being "frightening." One reason why Bush isn't frightening is because he has a quality Messrs. Major and Chrétien lack: He's at ease with himself.
The drums of war, the mongoose of disunity, the Y-fronts of Major: all great nations face their various challenges, but they need leaders who can rise to them. The modest regular guy is a seductive lure in a democracy, but most politicians are posing at it. Major and Chrétien were. I don't think Bush is. He's wholly without personal vanity. He wouldn't care where you sat him in Westminster Abbey.
So beware the leader who bangs on about being a regular guy. You may just be being hypnotized by the mongoose of mediocrity. Also, as the immortal Bard warns in Henry IV Part 2, "Beware the leader who bangs the health minister ..."
-- Anonymous, October 04, 2002