Friday, October 20, 2006

If you're not a gentleman, you can at least try to impersonate one at work

Babble on.

I'm no fan of Belinda Stronach. She's proven time and again that fidelity - to a set of ideals, to a political party, to a person - isn't her strong suit, and I'm the sort of guy who takes that sort of character issue pretty seriously.

But MacKay should apologize for referring to her as a dog in the House of Commons (ht:DMB). What he has to say about her in private to his friends and family is his own business and will only reflect upon him. What he says in public, and especially in the House of Commons, also reflects upon his party, his government, his constituents, and ultimately the integrity of the Canadian political system.

You want to call your ex a bitch in a bar over a beer with your buds? Whatever. She's probably calling you an asshole over daquiris with her girlfriends just down the street, and the truth is that neither of you is probably going to have much class talking about the other one for awhile. I get that. Breakups are acrimonious more often than not, and it's hard not to level personal attacks on such a personal matter. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and keep it in a bottom drawer so I don't have to be reminded about what a classless jerk I've been in decades past.

But levelling that sort of an insult in the House of Commons? Mr. Mackay, are you familiar with the concept of gravitas? Would you ever have made that remark in a court of law before you got into politics? Where is your professionalism? Where is your judgement?

Babble off.

21 Comments:

At 1:20 PM, Blogger deaner said...

I don't see that gravitas really applies when being heckled - the quick, sharp, retort is prized - and in that light, MacKay's response was pretty good.

 
At 1:36 PM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

How exactly is bringing a personal issue with an ex-girlfriend into a public debate with a third party at work sharp? What exactly did it have to do with the issue at hand on the floor at the time?

You may be amused at the farce that has passed for Question Period these past years, but I'm not.

The heckling that goes on in the HofC ridiculous, but that in no way excuses the fact that MacKay's comment was unprofessional.

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger deaner said...

First, the reference to MacKay's dog was a clear shot at the response to and publicity following Belinda's floor crossing - MacKay didn't "bring it into the public debate with a third party" - the third party did, as a personal insult and taunt. Second, MacKay and Stronach's personal relationship is part of public discourse since they are both public figures sitting on the front benches on their respective sides of the house; this is hardly a private matter with an ex-girlfriend unknown to anyone but MacKay and his rugby buddies. I agree - such a comment about an unknown or non-public person would be out of bounds: Belinda is neither. Third, professional conduct in the HoC consists of making your opponent look like an idiot; that is what the heckler was trying to do to MacKay, and what MacKay tried to do in return, albeit more successfully. Whether he would have said such a thing in a court of law prior to entering politics is irrelevant; in court neither the judge nor opposing counsel would have been heckling. Your question is akin to asking whether a defense attorney would shout "objection" in the middle of a Sunday sermon. No, he wouldn't; what of it?

It's sharp because the intent of the heckling (like all heckling) was to set him off, or deflect him from what he otherwise intended to say (unless you are willing to credit that the Liberal Party is seriously concerned about canine asthsma). His response cut off that line of attack, and turned attention back to a rather doubtful moment in the Liberal Party's history - thus setting back the heckler; that is a good comeback - not quite up there with "like being savaged by a sheep" - but not meeting Churchillian standards in turning a phrase is praising with a faint damn.

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger Raging Kraut said...

I guess this is why you shouldn't get involved with anyone at work.

Whether you think the remark was witty or justified (I've slagged an ex I still had to see at staff meetings as well...) it does speak to the judgement of the man, first in getting involved with her, then participating in the on-camera wallowfest after she dumps the party and him (in that order!) and now looking like a very bitter and small man.

Even if he were baited, he doesn't have to take the bait. Getting press for this isn't doing him, or his party, any credit.

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Of course, Deaner, you're right. What the hell was I thinking disagreeing with you? Keep applauding MacKay loud enough, and my definition of appropriate conduct in the Parliament will undoubtedly improve until it matches yours.

Or, conversely, you could go sell crazy somewhere else, where the target of your mind-control experiment isn't dumb as a rock. I'm amazed you can see the keyboard to type with your head buried so deep.

Don't mind me: I'm just heckling. Apparently it's what all the sharp kids do.

 
At 3:18 PM, Blogger deaner said...

"Don't mind me: I'm just heckling. Apparently it's what all the sharp kids do."

Right. And if this was the House, and I responded that is was so unfortunate that you are not one of the sharp kids, then I would have hit about the tone that MacKay did in his response, and what is wrong with that?

Let's turn the question the other way 'round: what response would you have preferred from MacKay?

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

...then I would have hit about the tone that MacKay did in his response, and what is wrong with that?

Did you just ask me to provide an opinion on heckling? Unfair! How am I supposed to have an opinion without you having given it to me? I just need the latest copy of today's script so I can keep up.

See? Heckling is so much more fun than engaging with you on substantive points of disagreement. More productive too: we're getting so much done in this exchange of witty barbs.

C'mon Deaner, comment again so I can ignore your point and just refer to one of your co-workers as a dog to the ringing applause of mine.

 
At 4:26 PM, Blogger Chris Taylor said...

Let's turn the question the other way 'round: what response would you have preferred from MacKay?

How about "I apologize to the honourable member for Newmarket-Aurora for my remarks yesterday and withdraw the statement categorically."

Problem solved, no muss no fuss, move along to other business.

I have to agree with Damian, dragging personal issues into the office is not a good move. In most cases it is downright stupid. People are human and yes they make stupid mistakes from time to time. But our politicians are paid to smooth over their mistakes and move ahead with the business of statecraft and government.

 
At 4:40 PM, Blogger deaner said...

Damian - you are missing the point; you are heckling, while I am making you look like an idiot (not that you aren't doing a fine job on your own).

That was MacKay's intention, too - we can argue about whether he managed it, or you can continue in your dogged (heh) quest to avoid understanding. It seems to me that your position is that MacKay should not even try - that when his personal life is held up for ridicule in the House (as it unquestionably was), in a way not even tangentially related to the subject at hand, he should submit to the heckler as if he was trying to make a valid point. Instead, with a four word response and a gesture he allowed the House to go back to its business of questioning Ministers and getting their responses, instead of insulting each other over what happened last summer.

 
At 4:53 PM, Blogger deaner said...

"How about "I apologize to the honourable member for Newmarket-Aurora..."

No - that is your suggested statement today after the statement yesterday that the Liberals 'already had MacKay's dog.' My question was, when heckled (or taunted) by an honourable member saying that if he didn't care about people's health, shouldn't he consider the health of his dog, what should MacKay have said?

Whether MacKay owes the member for Newmarket-Aurora an apology is another question - I don't think he does, although no doubt some do. I put it in the category of 'if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen' and much of the outrage is a pretty direct analogue of Inky Mark's (claimed) reaction to the 'deep end of the gene pool' comment from Goodale, or Joe Volpe claiming that "Libranos" was defamatory to Italians; in all cases it is merely a convenient excuse to attack an opponent and claim the moral high ground as a "victim." But as I said, that's another discussion.
;)

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Are you even trying to keep your argument consistent with reality, Deaner?

Instead, with a four word response and a gesture he allowed the House to go back to its business of questioning Ministers and getting their responses, instead of insulting each other over what happened last summer.

Riiiight. Because all anybody's talking about today in the news and on the net is the business of the house, and not MacKay's idiotic comment.

What colour is the sky on the planet you live on, Deaner?

And by the way, you already have my dog!

Gawd, I feel more like a minister of the crown with every petty jab.

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Yeah, MacKay's comment was really a service like you say, Deaner. The heckling was just bringing the proceedings to a standstill, and his dog-and-pony show was just the thing to get the business of the House back on track.

Or, you know, not.

(with props to David Akin for the link)

What a bunch of twits.

 
At 8:31 PM, Blogger deaner said...

Yes - MacKay should have known that he was in the land of faux outrage.

 
At 11:57 PM, Blogger GenX at 40 said...

There was not "faux" not any "outrage" - it was simply a personal manner that no person with basic manners should have referenced. It was stupid and he should apologize. This has little to do with Parliament or political decorum. Anyone who misunderstands this as a general rule should do likewise.

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

I am so tired of this woman. She makes news for all the wrong reasons. She could have taken the high road. Instead she did the predictably liberal thing and turned this into some spurious attack on the values of the entire CPC.

She may not be a dog. I don't know. But what she certainly is is a circus sideshow.

McKay should apologize to the house. No need to apologize to Belinda.

 
At 11:52 PM, Blogger Sean McCormick said...

"...and ultimately the integrity of the Canadian political system."

Our politicial system has integrity? When did that happen?

 
At 5:45 PM, Blogger deaner said...

"it was simply a personal manner that no person with basic manners should have referenced."

Has McGuinty apologized yet?

 
At 8:32 PM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Has McGuinty apologized yet?

Good point. Two minutes for instigating.

 
At 1:17 AM, Blogger deaner said...

"...Two minutes for instigating."

I'd call it as offsetting minors - or a tempest in a teapot.

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I'd prefer our country's top elected legislature to stop resembling a teapot so often.

 
At 7:37 PM, Blogger AwaWiYe said...

>Let's turn the question the other way 'round: what response would you have preferred from MacKay?

"Fuddle duddle."

 

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