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The Earth is Flat Award
A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...
web posted September 16, 2002
In Canada, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has long been renowned for his political skills. When many have written him off he continues to astound with his ability to turn a situation around to his advantage. Part of his package of political skills, his admirers say, includes a great command of language.
For us with more jaundiced eyes, Chrétien's abilities with the English or French languages has been less impressive. It's not his mangling of the English language which has prejudiced many people against Chrétien, but rather the content the words convey. That was never clear than during an interview on CBC-TV on September 11, 2002.
During the interview, Chrétien made statements of such ignorance that they were a new low even for him. Chrétien stated that he believed the terrorist attacks were in part the fault of the United States. Chrétien stated that there was a growing anger around the world because of America's power and foreign policy and because the "Western world is getting too rich in relation to the poor world and necessarily will be looked upon as being arrogant and self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits."
Continuing with his tortured logic, Chrétien stated that by attempting to impose its values -- piffles like democracy, the free market and respect for human rights -- the United States had alienated the rest of the world.
"There is a moment when you are very powerful. I said that in New York one day. It was on Wall Street. It was a crowd of capitalists, of course, and they were complaining because [Canada] had normal relations with Cuba, and this and that, and we cannot do everything we want. And I said that day -- if I recall, I used probably these words -- when you are powerful like you are, you guys, it is the time to be nice."
We'd use the tired argument of wondering what Chrétien would say to a rape victim who had dressed provocatively or had earlier refused the sexual advances of her attacker but that would attempt to make sense of Chrétien's logic. For a supposedly staunch ally of the United States, Chrétien has displayed a remarkable lack of support for Canada's southern neighbour and embarrassed Canadians who have thrown their wholehearted support behind America's war against terrorism. We can hardly wait until his promised retirement date arrives.
There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.
web posted September 16, 2002
Without a doubt, Bill Clinton is a master of public speaking. Even those who hated his eight year run had to admit that Clinton was effective at putting forward his vision, whatever it happened to be that day. What few failed to realize, however, was that Clinton rarely advanced complex ideas in his speeches. Rather, Clinton mastered the art of floating hazy ideas or shallow observations as deep insights. No matter what you believe, it worked for the man during two presidential elections.
It's a shame then that America's current occupant of the White House doesn't receive his fair share of praise. Just two days before his appearance in front of the United Nations in New York, President George W. Bush was slammed by one American newspaper for failing to have the rhetorical skills of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. We at ESR believe that his speech on September 12, 2002 may have finally destroyed the myth that Bush is a poor public speaker.
Whether it is extemporaneous remarks ("I can hear you; the whole world hears you. And pretty soon those evildoers will be hearing from us.") or delivered speeches ("history's unmarked grave of discarded lies"), Bush has always surprised observers who believed he didn't have the -- forgive us -- gravitas to make his case in a compelling manner. For believers in the man, however, they know what is capable.
In a speech so brilliant that even the New York Times had to admit it was effective, Bush neatly outmaneuvered the U.N. into making one of two choices: either join with the U.S. in enforcing Security Council resolutions levied against Iraq or fail to act and admit that the UN is a irrelevant institution that is of no more use.
"The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of UN demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment.
"Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or cast aside without consequence?
"Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?"
That's a question for the UN to answer and only because Bush forced it to ponder the question. Rather than be forced into a corner by UN demands for multilateral actions only after the world body had approved any -- approval it's hard to believe would be forthcoming -- Bush forced the UN to either multilaterally support the US or sit on the sidelines and become an institution with no mandate.
Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? E-mail ESR with your candidates!
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