Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Holy Spurious Speeches, Batman, or: Waugh, Waugh, Wauggggh

February already? My goodness. I'd better get down to business!

Uptown Magazine! Courage now; truth always!

Did you see my column in the most recent issue? Oh my god you have to read my column in the most recent issue. If I'm stabbed to death tomorrow, bury me with this column. It's pretty sweet.

I owe a retroactive debt of gratitude to my good friend Gavin for writing the spiritual antecedent to this piece, but I hope you'll agree I've given it that little extra twist of somethin'-somethin' that makes the exercise worthwhile for local audiences.

Now, there's something to be said for blind luck; deadline schedules meant that I wrote this column a couple of Fridays ago, to be published this past Thursday, and it just so happened that between the creation and the publication of this column the Mayor made a ridiculous spectacle of himself. Totally saved me the trouble of worrying that people might think I was exaggerating! Ha!

Yes, last Tuesday saw the Mayor give his bizarre, rambling, inexplicable State of the City speech -- an event so uncomfortable and ill-advised that nobody has any idea, even a week later, just what in the hell the Mayor was going on about.

It wasn't just that Katz played the victim card like it was the only kind ever included in the deck. (The other levels of government don't give me enough money! The media reported on my personal life! One guy at one event made one sign that called me a mean name! bawwwwwwwwww) That much is par for the course, by this point.

And it wasn't just that he made a specific point of targeting potential rivals in the upcoming election before they've even formally declared themselves as candidates. If that sounds like a strange development, it gets stranger; actual legitimate news reports were written about polls that nobody has ever actually seen the numbers from, so now we're speculating on imaginary results of an undisclosed survey about multiple unconfirmed candidates. You tell me why nobody bothers to vote in this city!

No, the absolute best part of the speech -- the real slam-dunk humdinger of a character note -- was when he dramatically strode away from the podium, wrapped himself up tightly in the dual cloths of dutiful outrage and moral superiority, and totally flat-out lied to the entire city. Just straight-up lied. It was tremendous, oh my word.

Those of you who know me know that I do so hate to belabour a point, but you know who else goes up for his big definitive rabble-rousing speech and launches into a flurry of deliberate mistruths and bafflegab?

Yeah, huh. I don't know why I even tried to write a column about this, in retrospect, when it very obviously writes itself.

I mean, I might have thought that I was being really clever, or whatever, but it's clearly out of my control when the similarities are so pronounced to the point that the Mayor even dresses like the Burgess Meredith Penguin.

He's not even subtle about it, really, is he? Subtlety's a lost art, mind you.

Now, part of the fun at the State of the City address was that the Winnipeg Free Press helpfully contributed videos shot on site, including footage of the media scrum afterwards -- which meant that we got the rare and hilarious opportunity to watch the Mayor weasel furiously about his talking points.

"For whatever the reason, the NDP have decided that they want to take over, take control of City Hall. Along with a left-wing group. [. . .] The NDP have said that, as well as the left-wing--a, uh, a left-wing group as well. And if you aren't aware of that, then you should be."
"Who in the NDP said that? Who do you mean? Like the actual party itself? Or--"
"No! Not the NDP -- members of the NDP, have basically said..."

Oh, man! Good times, right? Good times. But even better was that these videos also gave us, the viewing public, the rare and hilarious opportunity to see how local media reacts when you lie directly to their faces.

And they... don't seem to appreciate it, but at least they're polite enough to not make a big deal about it while the guy's talking.

I'm sure Kives knows that I appreciate his work, so I hope he doesn't think I'm knocking on him or anything, but I swear -- if you can watch those Free Press videos and not get at least a chuckle out of his facial reactions to Katz' half-delusional grousing, you're clearly better disciplined than I am.

You'll kindly note, if you were drawing the wrong conclusions from the above image, that I'm not purporting to speak on behalf of Kives or of anyone else; I threw that sucker together for fun entirely because I thought it was funny, which is pretty well the attitude you have to take if you're going to try and follow politics around here.

Do you know how little actually happens in this political sphere? Manitobans as a collective, and Winnipeggers in particular, are famously timid milquetoasts when it comes to electoral decisions post-WWII; the provincial government has only changed hands between parties twice in my entire lifetime, and Winnipeg hasn't voted a Mayor out of office in literally over half a century.

(That's a li'l bit of interesting trivia for you Homecoming 2010 folks. Good to be back, right? Literally nothing is different from when you left!)

So no matter how little I may think of the Mayor's performance thus far -- and it doesn't help that he's recently been shanking my profession, librarianship, like he asked it for money outside the Health Sciences Centre -- no matter how I might feel about the guy, the overwhelming odds are that he's just going to be re-elected again with an easy majority because that's how this city works.

Partially because we enjoy our complacency very much, yes -- but also in large part, and I will give credit where credit is due, because the man does know how to run a winning campaign.

"Double the assessments! Triple the size of the posters! Quad-rupple the number of campaign buttons! We'll give the voters of this city the kind of campaign that they want! Plenty of girls, and bands, and slogans, and -- lots of HOOOM-LAAA~! But remember -- no politics! Issues... confuse people. So a big smile, a high handshake, and a really catchy campaign song -- that's the way to win an election!"

So what are Jennifer Jones and Fresh I.E. up to these days? We'll find out! That election's just a mere six months away, folks -- and if there's one thing that I know you're looking forward to, it's six more months of this!


Anonymous said...

Oh my God that Bartley Kives montage was hysterical. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Slammin' Sammy was upset over the recently introduced legislation that forces greater disclosure of campaign contributions and assets.
Basically means that he has to not only disclose some of the shady deals he's gotten from rubenesque real estate developers, but that he'll have to fully disclose his personal assets too.

Now, no one is suggesting that he weaselled the numbers during his bitter divorce.
Or that he's forced by this legislation into either complying with the law (and having his ex-wife haul him back to court) or dropping out of this fall's election (in order to avoid his having hid assets during a divorce burst out into the headlines and scuttle his campaign).

It just would explain his Selinger-bashing...pretty odd, that, given that he depends on the Broadway offices funding his helicopter boondoggle.

So there you go -- provincial bashing, mentioning his squalid divorce and cracking under the stress...all in one neat package.

Anonymous said...

I like the Mayor Sam Katz / Penguin comparisons.