"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Tuesday 1 April 2008


Martin Short was the focus of a television feature replayed recently. The late John Candy, Dan Ackroyd, and others were part of the program. They talked about early years as high school students in Hamilton. Martin about how he learned he could entertain people. When he was quite young he discovered he had a talent for impersonation. Then he discovered he could make people laugh. He was paying particular attention to individual styles of expression.He watched television a lot and listened carefully.

It seems everyone has a unique style. They adopt certain words and phrases and a speech cadence. In Second City, Martin created his own hilarious characters and has gone from strength to strength in the North American entertainment industry.

When I met Logan, Heather Sisman's son, he was seven years old. He latched on to words and phrases like candy to be savoured. He likes to discuss things and is no slouch in the art of persuasion. Soon after we met, in an argument with his mother he raised his arms in a classic gesture and said, " As Evelyn Buck would say, where's the logic in that?"

At the beginning of this term, Aurora Cable camera people had a pool going. They bet how often and when a phrase would be used by one or other councillor. It seems I was in the habit of saying "Forty years ago". After I learned that I tried to avoid being so predictable. I would say instead "a hundred years ago". I am not about to give up an advantage.

When the flurry of nasty anonymous comments came in response to my Kangaroo Court Blog, I used the process to devine the authors. Words and phrases were a dead giveaway. The writers were not strangers.

Heather Sisman argues I can not make assumptions. Why not, I say? Why should they have all the fun I was simply exercising my intuition. At my time of life, it is a well-honed skill. It's my business to listen carefully and store away for future reference.

Paranoia is probably the main occupational hazard for politicians at every level. We are deemed to have thick skins. In fact, the opposite is the case. A reputation for honesty and straight talk is a precious asset. It is built in the face of conventional wisdom that there is no such thing as an honest politician. It is easy to lose and easier to squander.

Remember the old maxim: "You can fool some of the people some of the time. You can not fool all of the people all of the time" Relatively speaking, politicians tend to have a short shelf life. Life in a goldfish bowl is not how it seems. and things are always tougher than imagined.

It's a bit like being a new parent. You don't know anything about it. But you know you wont make the same mistakes your parents did.

If you are lucky, your parents will still remember what it was like to be new parents. Their advantage is knowing everything new parents know ... and a lot more besides.

1 comment:

Heather said...

We call it "doing the Evelyn". You have to raise your right hand higher than your left, and squirrel your face up as if you cannot believe what you've just heard. I have to tell you though, that it's not only my family that "does the Evelyn". I see it in your gang all the time :o)