Friday, July 07, 2006

Steve and Dubya Chat it Up............

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 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.
Tell many cowboy hats do you think Dubya receives annually??? Oh, well its the thought that counts. And besides, the meeting is about substantial issues, not about image enhancing opportunities, right?

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 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."

Steve? QUI?
After I watched the scrum yesterday on the news and heard Dubya calling the PM Steve, I laughed out loud. Morsels of fodder covered in blood for the media. All substance cast aside.......acknowledgement that our PM is a straight shooter............but deaf ears for the most part once the name "Steve" was uttered.
Now, don't get me wrong............there's nothing wrong with the name Steve. It's a good solid name that fits the likes of Martin, Yzerman, Lawrence and McQueen. It just isn't a good fit for Mr. Harper. Nope.......he's a Stephen through and through. Even in his kick back moments with his wife and family, he's still considered either Dad or Stephen, I'm pretty sure.
It's the same as being called Chuck if all your life you've been used to Charles. James and Jim. Timothy and Timmy. Michael and Mike. It's just what your used to. All are good names......but all connote a different personality. Harper has a Stephen personality. And the President of the free world offered a lob to the drooling ravenous media with an desire for absurdity to fill their pages by talking about his buddy Steve.
It could be that a great deal of good was accomplished during the tete a tete. Too bad we'll never really know......................(BTW.......the sprinkler system? I made that up)
"Going to call him 'William'? What kind of a name is that? Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is called William. Why not call him Bill?"
- Samuel Goldwyn


X said...

I laughed so hard when I heardthe sound bites. A) At considering Harper as a Steve and B) atthe feable attempt by Bush to show how "friendly" they've become. Now if only Harper would become more of a Steve, it might be better for teh country.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I really enjoy yours! :)

Ellen said...

That's our bumbling President for you... too folksy for his own good.

I'm kind of surprised his staff didn't do their homework better, especially since they've been a point of contention for this administration. But then that goes to show you the type of people Dubya surrounds himself with. They have proven to be either cronies who start wars and rob the people blind, or they're too inexperienced to have such high level jobs.
However it wouldn't surprise me too much if Dubya already knew Mr. Harpers name was Stephen, and just shortened it on his own.

My hubbys name is Charles. The first time I called him Charlie, he let me know, in no uncertain terms, that his name was Charles, NOT Charlie. It IS a big deal for some people.

Great post... I laughed a lot of the way through it, and was embarrassed once more by our fearless leader.

awareness said...

Hey there Outinleftfield wearing jogging pants :) Glad you chimed in. I've been reading your posts for a while since I found you on Mike's site.

I think our "Steverino" will always remain a Stephen. I think if he was to change personas, I would really be afraid.

These meetings of the mind are so darn phoney.........all image and smokey mirrors........

Hey Ellen.

Yes, my feeling is that the President was flying on his own with his folksy reference.

My husband too has a name that some people automatically slip into nickname mode.....James. I call him Jamie, but few do. He is most comfortable as James. Never Jim. He will answer to Guy Dubois, but that's a long story. :)

Thank you both for the comments. I loved writing this post. For some reason, the absurdity of the scene just struck a chord. Knowing that it's silly summer season for all things political and story related, I knew right away that the gist of the meeting was lost after the folksy comment.

However, the national headlines do still indicate that our new PM did well in his first serious foray into the land called DC. I have my fingers crossed that Harper will come through with some big changes in the political landscape.

One can always hope, right???


BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Every time I hear W speak, I laugh out loud. There is just something about him that, very sadly, but true, it pitfully funny. Turning 60 just makes it worst, not better.

Canadian Sentinel said...

Well, hello again, Awareness.

Looks like you didn't see my earlier comment a couple of posts down... so here I go again...

I feel I should add my own two cents as someone who shares a first name with our PM.

Doesn't matter to me whether folks call me Stephen or Steve. Makes no difference to me. I've experimented with both forms of my name and found no difference. I'm the same dude regardless.

At least I'm not named Hector, or Horatio, or Polonius, or Lysander, or Pasquale, or Vladimir... whew! Otherwise, I'd probably be some weird guy in a downtown coffeeshop talking about art history or something...

As for Dubya's calling the PM Steve, I feel it's quite normal. It's more casual and friendly, less formal. I don't recall Dubya using the Liebrano PM's first names, not that he even cared what they were. They weren't exactly the most polite and diplomatic they could've been as PMs anyway, and that puts off many folks.

Whatever one thinks of the President, one must admit the Canuck PMs prior to Harper didn't exactly act in a very friendly manner towards America. They seemed friendlier towards communist countries, IMHO... can't blame Americans for being put off with that and for appreciating a show of respect from our leader up in Snow Monkey Land... heh.

awareness said...

Hey Barbara.....

Thank you for visiting. I love wtching GW's bumbling folksy tumbles. it still blows me away that there are many who give the guy any credit. Maybe I'm just missing something? I don't think so.

Hey PasqualeSteverino........down by the Bay.......

Yes, it is more homespun and folksy and more laid back, but I am hesitant to state that our PM does laid back in such a formal setting. C'mon. We're talking about a dude that was hauling a briefcase to Grade 2. And if he would admit it, he probably had a pen protector in his left hand shirt pocket.

No.......Gee Dubya never sputtered the first names of our Liebrano PM's of late......I agree with you on that.

I have a name (not gonna tell cause I could get into big trouble at work) that OFTEN gets screwed up. It's a short nom but mispronounced a lot. As well, it's a name that both boys and girls can wear. So....I know how frustrating and irritating it is to be referred to by the wrong name. Harper did a good job covering up his discomfort, but that kind of thing, I'm pretty sure would put a bee in his blue bonnet.

Besides............. I wrote the piece as an absurdist take on the whole process of those ridiculously orchestrated "meeting of the minds" when we all know that the work that get accomplished is done by the worker bees in the background.....there to make a PM and a Prez look like they know what they are talking about.

Heads of State? They are the epitome of talking heads!! :)

Canadian Sentinel said...

Being a head of state ain't a walk in the park, unless one's a murderous dictator who always gets his way, like Klappin' Kimmy Jung Il, for eg.

I see you have a good reading on the leaders of these two great nations and their unique qualities. I'm actually more like the PM than like Dubya (I actually carried a briefcase to university in my first year!)

Of course politics is absurd. But life is absurd sometimes... it's inevitable.

Yes, heads of state are the ultimate talking heads. No doubt. But as we do live in a democracy and it can matter a lot who gets to run the country, it's wise to get a handle on the players on the political field.

Outinleftfield suggested that if PM was more of a Steve, it might be better. Sigh... we had a "Stock", whom folks in left field didn't want. Now we have leftfolks wanting to go back to politicians in wetsuits. I don't get it! Besides I once met Stock, purely by chance and coincidence just a month before the mutiny. He seems very nice, actually. An awesome memory. Some folks I know met him more than once and tell me he remembers their names. And another thing, there couldn't be a better Minister of Public Security than Stock, for he has little if any fear of evil, and I think this is a very important personal quality in someone responsible for protecting Canada and Canadians from threats. Well, as you can see from my picture (ok, it's actually Arnold), I take security seriously, for without which, our freedoms could someday be taken away by evil people like Kimmy and Ahmadinejad.

Anyway, ultimately, a name is just a name, as a cigar is only a cigar (but a certain ex-president named Bill doesn't seem to think that it's just for smokin')...

Do have a pleasant evening! :-)

awareness said...

I'm laughing out loud! That was a good one. Yes, that William Clinton was a creative dodger, wasn't he?

Carrying a briefcase to first year uni is very different than elementary school. I also had one for university!

I agree re: taking our leaders seriously and in all honesty, I do. I am very concerned about who's in charge and more importantly who is around the person who supposedly is in charge. Those people truly reflect the integrity (or not) of the leader.

I'm still a fence sitting Canuck when I consider Harper. For a long time, I was appalled with the whole Alliance crew and very uncomfortable with their political stripes. Just too right wing for my comfort and liking (and yes, I read extensively and not just one sided media which is always the question I get from Mr. Burtonfront) So, it comes as a bit of a surprise how well he seems to be doing. he's a smart man and has played his cards right.

the jury is completely out with Stock, however. Not even biting on that one. Glad he has a good memory for names. What seems to be missing between the ears is some common sense.........emotional intelligence. He ain't no academic either. I think you need a little bit of both.

My preference?..........YOu ready? I'm sure you could guess this......

Frank McKenna. Good ol' Frank. Yup.

Canadian Sentinel said...

Frank? Nah. I have my reasons, but as I just got up and haven't eaten yet, I can't think of them.

I see I'm more of a "right-winger" than you are. But I'm actually proud of it! I couldn't support Frank as PM. He's a Librano loyalist, and since I cannot vote for the Libranos as long as they continue to exist (for thirteen years' worth of terrible reasons), well, you see... it's the party, not just the leader. If Harper was a Librano, he wouldn't get my vote. If Frank was a Tory, he'd get my vote, see? It's the party. Of course, no leader's perfect, but neither is anyone else, so I think party principles and policies are far more important. A leader can always be replaced.

If Frank thinks the Libranos are good, then shouldn't we question his judgement/ethics? I mean... we're talking about the Liebrano$$$, fofecksake...

I cannot understand why Frank wants to associate with Libranos. It's, to me, bizarre. Too many questions about Frank to feel comfortable... besides, he's with the Bilderbergers, a top-secret international club with great powers, which Harper has the sense to stay away from these days.

The Liebrano$$$ made the case against themselves so effectively to those of us with open eyes and working brains that I really needn't list any reasons...

Well, have a good one! ;-)

Canadian Sentinel said...

BTW, I actually used to think McKenna was doing a good job. I even voted Liberal provincially the first time I voted. I think it was '91.

However... if I may prattle a bit, with your kind indulgence...

Too much liberalism isn't a good thing. I've suffered consequences personally for being a "devil-may-care" liberal in my own life and learned the hard way that humans, being imperfect creatures of appetite and tending towards the self-destructive, hedonistic pleasure-seeking, do indeed need discipline (if not self-discipline, then society should encourage self-restraint somehow, within the Charter, of course, as it is written... even under the Liberals, there have been rules, laws, norms, etc..., though not always the right ones!)

You see, my views and politics come from experience and observation. No one influenced me at all. What I am today is based on reality... a-posteriori, you know, not a-priori, me-too dogmatism, like I see in leftists.

For me, to simply have an opinion, while fine, isn't sufficient. People, I believe, should really put their heads to work and question everything, demanding proof or observing the proof over time and seeing patterns over time, which statistically demonstrate the way stuff happens. Of course, it isn't even that simple, but I believe folks should be encouraged to develop their intellect from an early age to be able to understand complex stuff so as to avoid being manipulated and coerced into artificial, even deleterious, belief systems, such as socialism...

You know, I like your blog, your style. It lends itself to the conversational more than does mine, which is, by design, controversial and confrontational, which is also needed in a healthy society. Even liberals do that, so it's really amusing when they complain about my and my blog's style.

Canuckguy said...

Awareness, I think Sentinel is flirting with you.

awareness said...


So much to say.....

Why Frank ever chose red is beyond me. I arrived in NB the month before he won the 58 seats and have had a birds-eye view of his energy and drive to re-jig the public sector and to work to establish a stronger sense of pride and work ethic within the NB community. The changes he created with respect to believing in self, believing in the importance of an education, believing in something other than living on welfare was dramatic.

He had strong visions with respect to our little province's role in the country.......that we could play with the biggies with respect to economic development and he followed through. Not only was he accessible to anyone (just had to head to the Market on Saturday morning if you wanted to bend his ear), he was this province's #1 cheerleader.

YES....... I know, I know! Meech Lake! yes....he made mistakes. But the guy had (and still has) integrity in my books.

Your comment on one using one's thinker? Couldn't agree more. I love a good debate.....and I have conciously tried to stir the pot a bit and throw out my opinions for discussion on this blog.

Critical thinking is missing to some extent in our school system. Kids and adults are not encouraged enough to analyze and dissect issues and concepts like they should. It is something that my hubby and I conciously promote with our children. It is something that I encourage with my clients when I'm counselling them.

Hmmmmmmm what else? I too chose the Tory way on my own......after a great deal of thinking.....think...think...think!

I'm glad you like how my blog is set up. Sometimes I think it's a bit schizophrenic........I jump from one topic to another pretty readily. But, when I chose to join this means of expression, I decided that I would write on whatever issue piqued my interest.

Canuckguy? You think? Ah, those Saint John boys..........teases everyone of them. :)

Canadian Sentinel said...

Actually, I found McKenna to be pretty much as you found him.

But after a while, he exhausted his abilities and had no idea what to do anymore. The call center briberies? I knew that it wasn't ultimately going to elevate the province above have-not status. In fact, the centers came and went. And now it looks like they could soon be pretty much all gone due to outsourcing to, say, India, as were many info tech jobs (I'm trained in IT, but had no luck, as I trained too late!) were outsourced.

It's just that, having cleaned up a lot of stuff quite well, Frank had no real vision beyond where he brought NB. That's the problem.

And that brings me to the comparison between Frank and Stephen (not me, the other one ;-)). If you read "Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada", like I'm still doing now, you'll understand where Stephen's coming from and how he thinks. He really does understand the causes and effects of the Atlantic's have-not status (though he had to learn to express himself in more palatable wording, if you know what I mean, but, hey, we all say stuff folks don't like sometimes, even when we're right...)

My point is that I believe whereas Frank is limited in his ability to go further than he already has (he gives me little reason to see more coming from him that'd really be great), Stephen has the understanding, the vision and the determination to do the right thing whereas hardly anyone previously ever understood nor cared beyond simply running the country (like perhaps almost into the ground with Jean and Paulie).

I believe we've barely scratched the surface of the man we know as Stephen. (Ok, that could apply to both of us Stephens, I guess!)

Harper has surprised the country with his competence and abilities. He was way underestimated and astonished many. Quite the opposite of Paul Martin, who was touted as a messiah, the great (non-color-specific) hope for Canada, but turned out to be as duddy as Kimmy's missiles (and Rush's missile, as well). ;->

If he can get so much good stuff done so fast with no end in sight, that's a good thing. After all, what, in thirteen years, did the Librano$ do that was all that great, besides get lucky and turn a deficit into a surplus by riding the global economic recovery boom? Further, notice that the dollar really rose after Harper's election, which indicates confidence amongst those who understand how gov't policies affect the economy (the high dollar also allowed me to afford a better new car than I would have otherwise bought!)

So can you see the difference between Frank and Stephen as I do? I mean, Frank was a reasonably good premier of NB who plateaued and couldn't get himself up any higher, which I believe the real reason for his resignation. To try to get the whole Canadian federation to blast off into space... is a whole different kind of game, in my view, which takes a different kind of leader, in whom I see Stephen Harper.

BTW, I do flirt, but I don't tease. Been teased myself, found it annoying, so I don't tease others. Flirting's ok... ;-)

TMelendez said...

I am sure that the US President was briefed. Like Ellen said, his folksy-friendly attempts (all he's got -- or at least he thinks so) makes him commit this HO-(e)RRORS!!

Did you catch a recent news press outside the White House where it was cloudy and he made fun of a reporter wearing glasses? Well the reporter is some percantage legally blind and needs those glasses.

He did some of the same the other day in Chicago. What is sad is that his staff diesnt do a better job at telling him to keep to the script.

And what is funny is that while everyone in Canada might have laugh, Joe Blow in middle America was thinking what a friendly presidenthe voted for.


Canadian Sentinel said...

Tmelendez, well, I think the President the Americans have today is a needed change from the one who misunderstood the purpose of cigars and actually claimed that there's more than one meaning of the word "is".

I'd rather have a folksy, casual President who makes honest "whoopsies" than a sinister, slick, machiavellian, making-up-ludicrous-excuses-for-inexcusable-behavior, one like Slick Willy was.

I never felt that Bubba was a trustworthy man. Surely neither did Hillary... why she doesn't dump the pig I'll never understand... unless she's a pig, too, or she could care less about ethics, morality and fidelity than about power and money?

Hmm... maybe Hillary is just another Slick Willy... but without the "willy"?