(Today's subject heading is an homage to internet wrestling legend Chris Hyatte, who may have just got married. With Hyatte, one can never tell what's fact, what's fiction and what's delusion.)
Shout out to resident Deonandia villain Darth Vadum, who tapes his first appearance on the Daily Show this morning! We don’t agree on anything politically, but I hope he kicks some ass on TV, ’cause he’s actually a good dude.
Here in Canada, we are four days from Election Day. Depending on which pollster you ask, we are on the verge of another Conservative minority, a Conservative majority or a Liberal minority government. You’ll have my prediction, as usual, on Monday.
Recently, Liberal leader (and francophone) Stephane Dion appeared on the Right-leaning CTV network for an interview. As you can see from this following video, he seemingly stumbled on one of the questions, asking for clarification several times:
The Conservatives are making much of this event, as evidenced in this Western Standard blog post. But if you watch carefully, it’s evident that the problem wasn’t in Dion’s comprehension (though that plays a part), but rather in the changing and poor phraseology of the question.
The interviewer first asks, “If you were Prime Minister now what would you have done about the economy and this crisis that Mr. Harper has not done.”
Then, he asks something to the effect, If you were Prime Minister now, what would you have already done differently? Huh?
Most politicians would have resorted to their standard talking points about the economy. I think it’s to Dion’s credit that he struggles to understand the specifics of the question in order to provide a specific response. I also think that most native English speakers would not have been able to understand the specifics of that question, either, since most couldn’t parse a sentence or formulate a complex verb tense to save their lives!
Dion’s request for clarification is completely reasonable from a non-political standpoint: how much time would he had been Prime Minister before the crisis hit? A few days? Years? The time frame makes a difference to the quality of his answer. Or at least it would for someone trying to give a truly reasoned response, rather than the canned answer we’d expect from Harper or Layton. (In particular Layton, whose standard talking points are really starting to grate on me.)
In any case, Dion’s inability to answer the question speaks both to his poor grasp of idiomatic English and to his highly analytical thought processes. But it also speaks to the journalist’s inability to ask clear and specific questions, and even his inability to rephrase when asked to do so. My impression of Stephane Dion went up as a result of this event, since it showed me that he does not try to avoid tough questions, but instead seeks to understand them.
Shame on anyone who attempts to portray this interview as an example of Dion’s poor intellect or weaseling politician ways. The polar opposite could not be more true.