Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Mulroney, Caught On Tape: The Ottawa Syndrome

Brian Mulroney discusses the Ottawa syndrome:

"They're all married to one another. They're shacked up with one another. Their wives are on the payroll of CBC. It's just awful, the goddamned incest here. Ottawa is a really sick place.

Mr. Mulroney's confessions in 98 taped interviews include boasts about his own achievements (including the fall of the Berlin Wall), frequent laments about the way he was under-appreciated in Canada and a vitriolic assessment of almost everybody who was anybody in Ottawa.

"This place is sick," Mr. Mulroney is quoted as saying some time late in his political career. "This is really a sick town. A sense of loyalty and friendship and devotion and mutual respect in some cases is non-existent and there's something in the air here that transforms people from supplicants to sinners overnight.

"You appoint them to the position and they forget completely not only who appointed them, they forget that they sought the appointment on bended knee. Ingratitude is the only thing they understand."

Remember: Mr. Mulroney is talking here largely about people who, at least at one point, were friends and supporters. His political rivals, obviously, are treated no better in the book. Neither are the lobbyists. And the press is slaughtered.

The talking heads are wondering whether Mulroney's occasionally profane outbursts of anger and frustration will damage efforts to restore his reputation. They shouldn't. Those who still hate him with a passion will simply reconfirm their hatred. Those who love him will cheer him for telling it like it is. And neither side will shift the other towards its way of thinking.

In any event, these are not the Richard Nixon tapes. There is no hint of criminal wrongdoing or other such malfeasance in office, Stevie Cameron's huffing and puffing like a horny pirateto the contrary. Nor are there hints of bigotry in the tapes. Mulroney was simply letting off steam to a reporter he thought he could trust, only to be burned.

The real reason for the media outrage about the Mulroney tapes is that he not only castigated them, but their friends in Ottawa as well. The MSM is as much a part of the Ottawa syndrome as the lobbyists and civil servants who live for the exercise of power.

The Family Compact and Chateau Clique never died; they simply changed their governing ideology and recruited fresh blood into their ranks.

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