A fame unearned, perhaps, but impossible without instinctive sycphancy

November 24th, 2006
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So Sacha Baron Cohen – whoops, I mean Sacha Trudeau – I was getting my self-important Sacha’s mixed up – thinks that his late father would have done a better job on the Quebec file than the current prime minister, Stephen Harper. “Just watch me” certainly sounds more pithy than “a nation within Canada”, though it’s a tad more provocative.
The former accelerated the pandering to Quebec, triggering 25 years of political obsession with that province. Where the latter might lead, nobody knows.

But why, exactly, should we care about the political musings of a man who has achieved partial fame merely by virtue of his pedigree? Since when does Canada have a hereditary ruling class? That someone would grab at the chance for unearned prominence is far less distressing – just another weakness of ordinary human nature, one supposes – than the instinctive sycophancy of so many Canadians (and Americans, in response to anyone bearing the surname “Kennedy”) to the pronouncements of someone whom they apparently regard as their better.

There are other offspring of ex-prime ministers awaiting the microphone. And just as pleasing to behold. Catherine Clark, for example. And Ben Mulroney. In his own roundabout way, Mulroney has actually earned his public persona.

Still, at bottom their views carry no more intrinsic weight than those of Ricky, Julian or Bubbles in Trailer Park Boys. Possibly there’s more common sense among the latter, the fictional trio having had to face and overcome many of life’s practical challenges without the benefits of vast wealth and the privileges that come with connections. And they seem to operate a virtually self-contained nation all their own, one that seems to require far more modest transfers from richer jurisdictions (mostly liquor and pepperoni) than Quebec.

As William F. Buckley famously declared many years ago, he would rather be rule by 100 names picked at random from the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard University. And I by the denizens of any small-town coffee shop over the invariably, reflexively left-wing scions of past philosopher-kings.

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