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Media Bites: Tom Mulcair and Duchess Kate Let it All Hang Out

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With parliament now back in session, it seems the Conservative Party is finally ready to debut the elaborate Thomas Mulcair-shaped straw man they've been working on since March.

We may recall that during the spring the Tories repeatedly tried to torch the real-life Tom over his infatuation with the so-called "Dutch Disease" theory of economic development -- which Joey Canuck ultimately found about as compelling as a wooden shoe. Politics is supposed to be personal, after all, and any critique that forces voters to familiarize themselves with the mid-century economic situation of the Netherlands fails that test pretty miserably.

Okay, say the Tories, then how about this: Thomas Muclair... wants to raise your taxes! Specifically, he wants to raise a carbon tax, which is a tax on everything you have, want, or could even conceive of! Time-traveling unicorn zombie cyborgs? Oh, you better believe Tom's gonna tax the hell outta those.

Hope you're having fun so far, says Andrew Coyne, because this carbon tax slur is what you're "going to hear six times a day until doomsday." The pundits are all feeling more than a little fatigued with this latest line of fire, partly because they're still worn out from the long nuclear winter of carbon tax fear-mongering that defined the Stephane Dion era. Partly because the Conservative Party's endless attack-ading -- a  "strategy that can be described as shoot, reload, shoot, repeat until the landscape is scorched" in the words of the Star's Tim Harper -- is getting a bit stale, and partly because, uh, is Mulcair actually even proposing this?

Not really, says lil' Aaron Whery of Maclean's blog fameHe's been all over the carbon tax insult beat and despite all these Tories pointing their fat Tory fingers at Muclair and laughing their throaty Tory laughs, he thinks "the joke is on you" if you're actually buying it.

See, says Aaron, the NDP is in favour of a pollution-reducing strategy called "cap-and-trade," (Lorrie Goldstien at the Toronto Sun has a good summary, if you care) but "during the 2011 federal campaign, the Conservatives did some alchemy and "decided that cap-and-trade and a carbon tax were the same thing." This, in turn, required a fine bit of Soviet airbrushing, since cap-and-trade is actually what Prime Minister Harper himself "proposed in 2008 and pursued through 2009" and "still won't rule out" for the future. So really, it's all just "an elaborate joke" forged by the highest levels of government in order to bamboozle a gullible public. Wake up, sheeple, Aaron cries.

Aaron's not alone, of course. Almost every pundit person and editorial board o'er the land has concluded more or less the same thing about the Harper crew, albeit in less nuanced language. "Just how stupid do they think Canadians are?" asks the Ottawa Citizen, for instance.

At least as stupid at the press, one would guess.

Media outrage at the endless stream of Pavlovian slogans, catch-phrases, and character-assassinating viral videos used by the CPC to demolish successive opposition leaders is a spectacle as routine as the dirty tricks themselves. Yet no volume of press indignance has ever done much to counter their influence.

Clearly our journalists need some help perfecting their communication strategy.

I wonder if there are any Tories available?

***

If the Calgary Hearald has seen an unexpected spike in web traffic over the last couple of days, I imagine it might have something to do with the fact that their homepage currently features a prominent link promising "the slippery slope of Kate Middleton's breasts (with video)."

Proving that royal love is truly a passion that burns deep in the nation's... well, you know, Canada's editorial pages have once again devoted considerable column space to offers of unsolicited advice to the latest member of the Windsor clan caught parading around in the emperor's new clothes.

"If you don't want your nipples to be seen, you should cover them up," scolds Karen Selick in the aforementioned slippy breasts column. Selick is not only a writer whose snippy views on breast-coverage were widely syndicated in papers across Canada this week, she's also a bigshot in the Canadian Constitution Foundation. And the CCF knows that if you let royalty go around demanding negatives of incriminating boob shots, who knows where it'll stop?

"Would she be able to demand imprisonment for someone who took her photograph wearing both halves of her bikini?" clamours Karen. How about "a tank suit? A skimpy evening gown? Any photo at all?" I mean, I thought we were living in a constitutional monarchy here, not Pol Pot's Cambodia!

Even the usually reliably pro-monarchy Toronto Sun has little sympathy for Mrs. Prince William.

While obviously every "reasonable person deplores Kate's privacy being violated," writes Peter Worthington, is it really asking too much for "the woman who is destined to someday sit on the British throne" to, y'know, keep the corgis in the kennel, so to speak?

Bah, says Mike Strobel on the opposite page, if Kate values her precious privacy so much then perhaps "princess" wasn't the best career choice. But I'm sure she'll "make an excellent bartender or kindergarten teacher" -- providing she remembers that one job rewards mammary exhibitionism slightly more than the other, that is.

Anyway, to summarize, the consensus is that duchesses should not be naked in public.

The 13th Century made its contribution to the restraint of royal privilege; I guess this is ours.