Well, the Thrilla on the Hilla may be over, but in the eyes of Canada's journalists, the real game's just getting started.
The objective? Cobble together the most compelling narrative to explain why Justin Trudeau's unexpected smackdown of Patrick Brazeau actually represents something more consequential for the nation than a third-party, backbench MP giving a bloody nose to a federal senator no one's ever heard of (but I repeat myself). Anyway, ding ding!
At the Toronto Star, Thomas Walkom comes out swinging with not one, not two, but three savage metaphors about how Justin's T.K.O. manifests the young politician's abundance of qualifications for higher office. Like Papa Trudeau, Walkom says Justin clearly has "caught the public's imagination by taking physical risks" (Brazeau being the closest available equivalent to the FLQ), shown his commitment to democratic accountability by beating up "a Conservative patronage senator handpicked by Prime Minister Stephen Harper," and demonstrated "a knack of making the front page" -- which is obviously an end unto itself in politics these days.
Lawrence Martin at the Globe and Mail is no less awed, unironically describing Trudeau's victory as a "defining career moment," with Brazeau's sweaty corpse providing further grease for Justin's steady slide towards the PMO. If the Liberal Party is to "rise again," Larry says, "it needs someone of daunting name and spirit to remind the country of its daunting days." You know, like that time Lester Pearson punched out a speedo-clad John Diefenbaker.
Clearly, we can all agree that JT's star probably will never stop rising. I mean, his gravitational force is so strong at this point it's even begun pulling headlines away from lesser family members, as we saw last week when the death of Margaret Trudeau's mom was reported as "Justin Trudeau's grandmother dies."
But at the same time, let's not lose track of the larger partisan symbolism!
Sun TV's bloodthirsty cockiness in hosting the fight, particularly that of MC Ezra Levant, who could barely restrain his glee in pushing Justin Trudeau into the waiting fists of a burly Tory senator, was not lost on the nation's liberal pundits, with Vancouver City Caucus blogger Mike Klassen going so far to dub the assumed drubbing "a veritable Conservative wet dream."
An effete, urban liberal like JT was the perfect sacrificial lamb for the Tories, quipped Warren Kinsella, since he was "the literal personification of everything they despise." Though I will note a long-haired, tattooed, aboriginal bureaucrat-cum-politically-correct senate appointment is hardly the literal personification of everything Conservatives love, either.
Both agree that Trudeau's come-from-behind win has to serve as some kinda metaphor for Tory arrogance, with Kinsella hoping, rather creepily, that Liberals will be able to harness their newfound bloodlust for the greater Grit cause. "Step on their necks, and don't lift your foot until the day after the election," he says. Is it a metaphor? Who even knows anymore.
Alas, not everyone is delighted with all this this blurring of lines between politics, sport, and Celebrity Deathmatch.
Tim Harper at the Star opines sadly that politicos punching each other in the face is basically the "ultimate result" of the decline of our parliamentary discourse, "where shouted slurs are common and physical challenges are sometimes tossed in anger." To which Adrian McNair at the Post responds, no, punching people is actually "far more sedate" than all the "childishly embarrassing fighting that goes on in the House of Commons on a regular basis." Maybe the two of them should duke it out?
Chris Selley, meanwhile, is very insistent that he actually likes violence and is not some big wimpo, but still beamoans the fact that our political betters never learned to use their words. "These people run the country, ostensibly," he says. "They're supposed to have some dignity." Which is a little rich coming from Canada's most famously mulleted reporter, but he does have a point.
Lucky for Selley, however, the vast majority of Canadians were spared the innocence-robbing spectacle of politicians wasting time on undignified nonsense. Though Sun TV was quick to claim their ratings were "another winner" in the fight, the grand total of 102,000 viewers who tuned in -- most of whom I assume were blurry-eyed journalists scouring the coverage for possible metaphors -- is only really impressive in the context of normal Sun programming, which evidently can't be all that great if getting .3 per cent of the populace to tune in represents their "biggest audience to date."
Considering that Canadians are usually such a reality TV-crazed people, perhaps the failure of Sun to create a political boxing match worth watching just goes to show that mixing government and entertainment rarely makes for compelling viewing.
For a network that bashes the CBC so much, you'd think they'd have picked up on that by now.
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