Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Real Pit Bull Shows Why...

...the big boys in Canadian politics didn't want Elizabeth May in the debate.

There are two women debating tonight, two first-time top level debaters. One, Elizabeth May, had to fight for the last few years to get into the debate, the other not only didn't have to fight (despite styling herself a "pit bull with lipstick").but was catapulted onto the US national stage like a shooting star.

They are very different women -- nearly diametrical opposites in every way except their race and their status as moms. To offer one example, Ms. May is a capable debater, devastating but fair, with a couple decades of experience. Ms. Palin is not.

Is either of them a "pit bull"? Perhaps.

See, I actually know something about pit bulls. The highly coloured, slavering pit bull of the yellow press isn't a lot like the real one, a pet whose favorite hobby is sleeping on the sofa. (Don't take my word for it, the New Yorker had a comprehensive article here.)

So when the Republican VP candidate called herself a pit bull with lipstick, that told me that whatever else she might know, she didn't know anything about pit bulls.


Back to humans for a bit. I am typing and listening to the all-candidates's debate. May got the first question and jumped right in with no attack, no talking points, no platitudes but a forty word prescription for defending the Canadian economy by protecting Canadian corporations from foreign buyers, shrinking the dollar to boost our balance of trade for immediate income while initiating a shift our trade and manufacturing sectors to be less dependent on any one country or commodity.

So far, about 40 minutes in, every time May has spoken it has been to throw cold water on Harper's protestations. Meanwhile, Harper is speaking in the voice of a so-tired, 1950s father home from the office after a long day, only to find he has to settle a squabble between the kids.

Meanwhile the "kids" are sounding a lot more grown-up than Harper, all of them countering his vague statements with traceable facts and no weaseling at all so far. There's been a little sniping among Layton, May, and Dion, but mostly they sound exactly like a loose and functional, even cordial coalition on the left. I lift my glass to them all, so far I hear no frothing. Is EMay keeping them honest?


I can't live-blog this tonight, it's been a long day. But let me finish up with the doggies.

I have worked with dogs for thirty years and met scores of pit bulls. In one case I even toured a kennel that had about a dozen pit bulls which, I found out later, were being actively trained and used for fighting at that time. Of about 200 of these dogs only two did not try to climb in my lap and get their ears scratched and their tummies rubbed and lick my face if I wasn't quick enough to prevent it. Your average pit bull is relaxed, confident, friendly and when necessary capable of taking quick action to do what is needed without backing down.

I hope Ms. May doesn't mind me saying that by these qualities, she is the pit bull, not Sarah Palin.

So if Palin is not a pit bull, with or without lipstick, than what dog is she?

Well first, I must say that I do not know a bad breed. But also, I don't know any breeds that don't have regrettable members, and some members of some breeds are bad in predictable ways, so take that into consideration.

Does this portrait remind you of anything?

--beautiful, fluffy and well groomed --
--cute when it suits their purpose, aggressive and noisy when they can manage it --
--brainless in their choice of targets, especially since they don't have the power to carry through with their threats --
--alternately attacking at full speed and hiding under the bed--

This sounds to me like a good description of the only dog that ever attacked me unprovoked. This tiny dog, about seven pounds, would have torn a chunk out of my arm if my coat had been thinner. It was the pet Pomeranian of an old man who carried it inside his sweater wherever he went.

No lipstick in sight, but otherwise all present and accounted for. Enjoy the debate(s).


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