By Charles Adler, with help from Charles Krauthammer
First, a little political football — Warren Kinsella, the former Liberal strategist is saying publicly what every Liberal activist is saying privately. They understand that while the country is not having a love affair with Stephen Harper (never did, never will), they are not interested in disposing of him like a Tim Horton's coffee cup. To use Kinsella's words, “They are not hell bent on getting rid of him.” The entire thrust of Liberal strategy (if you can call it that) in the last two years has been sooner or later Canadians will wake up to how scary Stephen Harper is. It hasn't happened. He's about as scary as your local loans officer at the bank. You may not love him. He may make you go through a whole lot of hoops to get your dough. But ultimately you trust him and you keep going back to the bank. You can take this to the bank, folks.
It's been nearly five years since Stephen Harper beat Paul Martin and there is no movement to bring Paul Martin back on the premise. The public is not having buyer's remorse. Oh Gosh Darn, we made the wrong decision. Sorry Paul, please come back. It's not happening. There is no move to resurrect Stephane Dion who lost to Stephen Harper. Please, please si vous plait Monsieur Dion. Please come back. Sorry. Not happening. By this time next year, the same will be said about the next former leader of the Liberal party Michael Ignatieff. Kinsella's former team mate Ian Davey, the son of the former Liberal rainmaker Keith Davey, the architect of many Liberal victories during their halcyon days, said in the National Post on Monday, “Liberals have to learn from Rob Ford how to win elections, have to focus on economic competence, which is to say cut the bloated spending programs.” The advice is to stop muddying the message of economic competence by talking about things like the home care program that Liberals were unwrapping earlier in the year. That's when they were talking about the government sending you cheques to take care of ailing Grandma and Grandpa, a warm and fuzzy spending program that appeals to the Liberal base. In any other time, maybe a winning idea. Not this time. To quote Ignatieff's former chief of staff, "In a time when Canadians know money is tight, Liberals would be far wiser to be focusing on a message of change. Just ask Rob Ford."
When Michael Ignatieff's former top adviser is now on the sidelines with nothing to lose by telling the truth and says the only way for Liberals to win is to impersonate Conservatives like Rob Ford – that is a message louder than a Vuvuzela at a South African soccer game. That is a loud message – and it’s saying the Liberals have nothing in the kit except a disguise. If Ignatieff wants to wear a disguise next spring, if he wants to don a mask and pretend he is a Conservative, then it is now said by the best brains in Liberalism that he has a chance. You'll pardon me for having my mind on the Grey Cup, but the disguise play is a desperate Hail Mary throw. And most of the time, the team that is on its own twenty yard line with only ten seconds left on the clock, most of the time the Hail Mary that is thrown doesn't end up in the promised land. That Hail Mary doesn't go to Jerusalem. It goes right into the Hudson's Bay. Michael Ignatieff, if he is willing to put on the disguise and pretend to be more Catholic than the Pope, more Conservative than the Conservatives – well there’s a good chance he’ll become Polar Bear Food.
Nobody I've seen writing about the Don't Touch My Junk airport security issue has been able to put it into the perfect political context like Charles Krauthammer, who in the Washington Post has delivered this gem:
Ah, the airport, where modern folk heroes are made. The airport, where that inspired flight attendant did what everyone who's ever been in the spam-in-a-can crush of a flying aluminum tube – where we collectively pretend that a clutch of peanuts is a meal and a seat cushion is a "flotation device" – has always dreamed of doing: pull the lever, blow the door, explode the chute, grab a beer, slide to the tarmac and walk through the gates to the sanity that lies beyond. Not since Rick and Louis disappeared into the Casablanca fog headed for the Free French garrison in Brazzaville has a stroll on the tarmac thrilled so many.
Who cares that the crazed steward got arrested, pleaded guilty to sundry charges, and probably was a rude, unpleasant SOB to begin with? Bonnie and Clyde were psychopaths, yet what child of the '60s did not fall in love with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty?
And now three months later, the newest airport hero arrives. His genius was not innovation in getting out, but deconstructing the entire process of getting in. John Tyner, cleverly armed with an iPhone to give YouTube immortality to the encounter, took exception to the TSA guard about to give him the benefit of Homeland Security's newest brainstorm – the upgraded, full-palm, up the groin, all-body pat-down. In a stroke, the young man ascended to myth, or at least the next edition of Bartlett's, warning the agent not to "touch my junk."
Not quite the 18th-century elegance of "Don't Tread on Me," but the age of Twitter has a different cadence from the age of the musket. What the modern battle cry lacks in archaic charm, it makes up for in full-body syllabic punch.
Don't touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man, the Tea Party patriot, the late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter. Don't touch my junk, Obamacare – get out of my doctor's examining room, I'm wearing a paper-thin gown slit down the back. Don't touch my junk, Google – Street View is cool, but get off my street. Don't touch my junk, you airport security goon – my package belongs to no one but me, and do you really think I'm a Nigerian nut job preparing for my 72-virgin orgy by blowing my johnson to kingdom come?
In "Up in the Air," that ironic take on the cramped freneticism of airport life, George Clooney explains why he always follows Asians in the security line:
"They pack light, travel efficiently, and they got a thing for slip-on shoes, God love 'em."
"I'm like my mother. I stereotype. It's faster."
That riff is a crowd-pleaser because everyone knows that the entire apparatus of the security line is a national homage to political correctness. Nowhere do more people meekly acquiesce to more useless inconvenience and needless indignity for less purpose. Wizened seniors strain to untie their shoes; beltless salesmen struggle comically to hold up their pants; 3-year-olds scream while being searched insanely for explosives – when everyone, everyone, knows that none of these people is a threat to anyone.
The ultimate idiocy is the full-body screening of the pilot. The pilot doesn't need a bomb or box cutter to bring down a plane. All he has to do is drive it into the water, like the EgyptAir pilot who crashed his plane off Nantucket while intoning "I rely on God," killing all on board.
But we must not bring that up. We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety – 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.
The junk man's revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.
But now you insist on a full-body scan, a fairly accurate representation of my naked image to be viewed by a total stranger? Or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which, as the junk man correctly noted, would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else?
This time you have gone too far, Big Bro'. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time and try my patience. But don't touch my junk.
That's Charles Krauthammer and I'm Charles Adler. We don't break news. We break heads, educating without pain and tedium. We break hearts, giving grown men the license to cry. And, we break down the doors of political correctness.
When tedium breaks out, we break in like a burglar.