|Gilles Duceppe in Fantasyland|
A recent example of spin was Dimitri Soudas (Harper's spinmeister) claim that Canada lost the Security Council seat at the United Nations because of opposition leader Michael Igantieff's lack of support. The story was then put out that the loss was an expected consequence of principled policies and was to be expected. At any rate, in a classic spirit of 'sour grapes,' the loss portrayed as no big deal. Hmm.....
That being said, when it comes to spin, nobody beats Gilles Duceppe, who needs no help from professionals. He is the ultimate expert at the fine art of creating an alternative universe, one where everything unfolds according to his plan and where he is a conquering hero.
And so Gilles Duceppe's 'triumphant' conquest of Washington is another masterful performance of taking lemons and turning it into lemonade.
According to Mr. Duceppe, his recent visit included meetings with 'high' officials in the State Department and presentations before two prestigious think tanks, as well as important 'private' meetings with members of the Canadian-American Business Council. A smashing success!
As Lawrence Welk used to say...Wunerful! Wunerful!...
In the Quebec press, ever eager to validate the separatists, the visit to Washington was portrayed as a noteworthy political event, one where the separatist leader was afforded a polite and friendly forum among Washington's movers and shakers.
But reality is somewhat different.
Mr. Duceppe's carefully crafted visit was an abject embarrassment, one where the separatist leader was mercilessly snubbed by those who counted.
Of the almost six hundred elected officials to Congress, not one gave Mr. Duceppe the time of day. No interviews, no lunches, no handshakes and no photo ops.
Notwithstanding Mr. Duceppe's statement that the Obama administration was too busy with mid-term elections to meet with him, the reality is that as well as the congressional snub, there wasn't an any other official, Democrat or Republican who dared meet with the sovereignist leader.
This, one can imagine, after months of desperate attempts to secure meetings with someone, anyone who counts.
For American politicians, Mr. Duceppe is toxic.
The idea of consorting with a French Canadian who advocates the breakup of Canada is about as enticing as attending a birthday celebration in honour of Mahmoud Ahmajinedad at the Iranian embassy.
Among the Washington set, who tend to see the world as black or white, French-Canadian secessionists are viewed just a step above Al-Quaida. The idea of lending support to their cause, by virtue of a meeting is about as likely as Mr. Duceppe landing an audience with the Queen.
Mr. Duceppe's public line, crafted for public consumption back home, was that he was going to Washington to convince politicians to remain neutral in any future negotiation between Quebec and Canada vis-a-vis sovereignty.
While this may sound plausible at home, for Americans it's as ridiculous as your brother-in-law asking you not to choose sides in the upcoming divorce between him and your sister.
Mr. Duceppe's speaking engagement before a think tank, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was a sad little affair that didn't even make the institute's own web site, where no mention of the speaking engagement was made either before or after the event. See the events calander here.
As for 'prestige,' all is not rosy at the Institute, which has been accused of conflict of interests and of accepting large corporate donations to shape opinion. Link
It begs the question, did Mr. Duceppe pay to speak?
Reading the online accounts of the trip, it's clear that nobody in the Quebec media actually went down with Mr. Duceppe to cover the story and the media relied on Bloc Quebecois press releases and telephone interviews to cobble together a story as best they could.
The only article that seemed to have some first hand information about the speaking engagement was the Toronto Star, which reports that the small audience of less than a couple of dozen people gave Mr. Duceppe a rough ride during questions after the speech.
Mr Duceppe was challenged as to how an independent Quebec could expect to be afforded entry into NAFTA, given America's new protectionist attitude.
"No problem," answered Mr. Duceppe who maintained the rosy fiction that the world will beat a path to the door of an independent Quebec. "Just wait and see."......Ugh!
As for Mr, Duceppe's claim that he attended high level meetings with the State Department, nothing could be more laughable.
Readers should understand that being fobbed off to the State Department for 'meetings' is the ultimate insult reserved for tin-pot dictators and other undesirable foreign diplomats and politicians, deemed unworthy of meeting actual administration officials, even of the lowest order.
Had Mr Duceppe met with Hillary Clinton or even Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, it would have been newsworthy, but since we didn't hear anything of the sort, it can be safely assumed that Mr. Duceppe met with a low level bureaucrat from the Canadian desk, suckered into taking the meeting by his boss.
What is most telling in this whole affair is that there's not one American official, elected or appointed, nor any State Department bureaucrat who would allow a photo to be taken with Uncle Gilles. Nobody.
And so while Mr. Duceppe weaves the fantasy that he was well-received in Washington and that Americans are listening and open to his message, nothing could be farther form the truth.
Mr Duceppe would have us believe, that in his painful and broken English, he managed to make palatable, what is an anathema to Americans, an independent, left-wing, French state, smack dab on their northern border.
More spin. More lies. More crapola.
And nobody is prepared to cry out in public, that this emperor has no clothes!