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Rex Murphy Point of View
October 8, 2009
Stephen Harper – Canada’s own Susan Boyle!
Michael Buble, look to your lounge crooner laurels. The scat-master is installed at 24 Sussex …. there’s a new blue-eyed boy in town, and even if for the moment it’s only a minority, he really is the new Chairman of the Board.
Who would have thought that the buttoned-down Stephen Harper----buttoned-down? hell he probably irons his socks – that underneath that uber-nerd exterior (Stephen Harper’s idea of a wild night is an 8 p.m. visit to IKEA and a second swig of Evian) there’s a furtive fragment of Keith Richards longing to be free?
Will the day ever come, I wonder, when people will look back on that daring duet with Yo Yo Ma, and see that it was the beginning of something rich and strange, the breakout moment of Stephen Harper unplugged? The mind shudders. Is the day ahead, god forgive me for the thought, when we will think of Stompin Tom and Stephen Harper in the same breath?
Last Friday’s visit to the National Acts Centre gala wasn’t entirely, of course, about white tie and tails and the chance to “groove” and rattle the ivories with a surely staggered Yo Yo Ma.
It was also – the musician in Mr. Harper will never bury completely the wily schemer-tactician we have all come to know and love - a political event.
He hurt himself real bad, an own goal, last year when he chopped money to the arts, and did his best populist Tim Horton’s number on all the “swells” who show up at arty galas. Like the Kings of the late middle ages, minority-government-monarch Harper had to put on his “sackcloth and ashes” and play the contrite penitent to the very crowd he dissed so disastrously.
I gather, from the response in the Hall, that all was forgiven – and thus it is that an old Beatles hit has accomplished what a whole army of tone-deaf spin-doctors could not.
Music – we’re told – hath charms to soothe the savage breast: but who knew it could work on the polls? Then again – the slickest Willie of them all whipped out a saxophone on Arsenio Hall in the wake of bimbo eruptions threatened his ascent. There are no bimbos in Harperland – we can be sure of that – it is the ultimate bimbo-free zone – but maybe he’s learned from the master anyway.
An unthinkable question is starting to form in the general mind: Is Stephen Harper likeable? Dangerously for Michael Ignatieff – for the reverse question is starting to form for him … check those latest polls. Mr. Ignatieff is crashing like a cymbal in the middle of a lullaby…. a great tenor with hiccups. Conventional wisdom might take a beating here – cue trumpets and violins – but Stephen Harper may be the one with the personality.
One other thing --- remember that “hidden agenda” charge that has haunted and harassed Harper from his first day aiming for the big office. Turns out there really is one.
It may now be revealed this whole marathon effort to become Prime Minister was but a ruse, a tactical cover, a sham, a side-shunt for the real run at Canadian Idol. He’s not looking for votes: he’s been pitching Ben Mulroney.
I expect he’ll start a group. Harper and the Deficits. Lawrence Welk… Peace be to his bland shade …. Has found a successor.
For the National, I’m Rex Murphy.