Yesterday, Gee Dubya's 60th birthday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Washington for a meeting of the minds. Yep, two good ol' boys met for a planned gabfest and an orchestrated media scrumfest that made all the world of difference between the two countries that share a vast border encompassing many thorny issues. 40 minutes of banter. That's a whole lot of mind chattin'
Think of how many bluesuits are both sides of the border were involved in setting up this meeting.......briefing notes constantly debriefed and rebriefed, pre-meeting meetings, negotiations dithered through, contracts discussed, agendas and add ons and deletions...........smoke has surely been flying out of Blackberryland. Empty coffee cups and trays of scarfed down tuna sandwiches litter the boardrooms.
Chances are the planning began in earnest weeks before.........vacations put on hold as the wonks planned and debated and decided every last detail of chatty chatfest in Washington. Oh, and then there would be the meetings with the two figureheads individually to ensure that they both were clearly cognizant of the details. Well, I'm confidently sure this is what happened on this side of the border since I have been privy to provincial level planning that goes into gear with a Minister of a Department before an important encounter. It's overkill at it's finest.
Yeah.....I bet there was even a meeting to decide on the "perfect" birthday gift for the Prez. So much to consider....... has to be something that is meaningful, that could possibly link the two countries, has to be uniquely Canadian, but maybe something that would tie in with Dubya's Texan roots.... something shiny and ostentatious so it looks expensive........ nothing that could be perceived as politically incorrect (that ruled out baby seal earmuffs) FYI..........the giftie committee opted for a belt buckle and a couple of other trinkets.......a SpongeBob sprinkler system for the front lawn of the White House and oh yes A COWBOY HAT?? I'm sure the committee lovingly wrapped the goodies in gift bags purchased at the local Dollarama adorned with a manly motif. But, honestly, you can't hide the fact that apart from the sprinker system, these presents are totally unoriginally dull.
Who knows how the President of the United States prepared..........he has a lot more on his plate, especially now that the psychopathic platformed shoe, boofant buffoon from North Korea has decided to leave his film screening room to shoot off a couple of misguidedly fizzled missiles........... I'm thinking that "Dave" the Canadian specialist who has an office somewhere tucked away in D.C. was asked for two pages of bullet points highlighting the agenda and key messages to be discussed. A Canuck conversation to brief the President and his inner circle.......Condi and Dick.............was wedged between crisis interventions.
Feeling that all bases were covered, that everything would go ticketee-boo, the Canadian entourage arrived. The intent was to discuss softwood lumber issues, to make sure the Yanks knew that we were finally upgrading our military machinery and personnel, that we have major concerns over the need for passports to cross over the border for cheaper milk, that we're doing our bit in Afghanistan (and our providing better coffee there now, thanks to Tim Hortons), and that we did our bit in arresting a bunch of wannabe suicide bombers in Toronto the Good. And for the most part......................it sounds like these topics were covered (in depth obviously given the length of the meeting). Good. Well................except for one thing............................
No one briefed the President on the fact that our Prime Minister's name is Stephen. And, no one on our side coached our boy on how to clarify this faux pas if it were to rear it's head.
Out they come from behind closed doors...........suits match? Check. Walking parallel to one another? Check. Smiles on? Check. Fly done up? Check. Order for discussion known? Check. Podiums set up so they look like the same height? Check. Script practised? Check. Room for some impromptu ad-libbin'? Yup....................
An excerpt from the Globe and Mail:
"In statements after their 40-minute meeting in the Oval Office, the Canadian Prime Minister spoke largely to his constituents back home, delivering the bulk of his message in French while the President and American reporters scrambled to adjust their translation devices.
Mr. Harper talked about the shared goals of the two nations, the role Canada can play in international security and the need for an open border.
Mr. Bush talked about Mr. Harper, whom he repeatedly referred to as "Steve."
"I'm impressed by his leadership style. I appreciate the fact that he doesn't mince words, he tells me what's on his mind," he said. "He does so in a real clear fashion."
The U.S. President seemed intent on presenting the image of two friends of like minds getting together to chat about the state of world affairs, suggesting in subtle ways that this bond was very different to the cool and occasionally acrimonious relationship he had with previous Liberal prime ministers.
In discussing the problem of North Korea, he said "one of the reasons why it's important to have Steve here is so we can talk about how we can work together to deal with it."
On the whole, Mr. Bush said: "I'm proud to have allies like Steve who understand the stakes of the 21st century."