Library bans itself

Canadian bureaucrat calls Bush “a moron”

Yep — one did. But by favorite part was how the Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chretien, was forced to respond:

An offhand comment by a senior member of the Chrétien government may have a lasting effect on relations between Ottawa and Washington. A top aide to the prime minister has been quoted as referring to U.S. President George W. Bush as “a moron.”

The disparaging comment from Chrétien’s inner circle has shaken the Prime Minister’s Office. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was forced to say on Thursday that President Bush is “a friend of mine. He’s not a moron at all.”

The accusations of moronicity is, of course, rather ironic coming from an aide to a Canadian prime minister who is famous for being so exquisitely incomprehensible in both official languages that reporters regularly have to convene, after a Chretien speech, to discuss and agree upon what the hell he just said.

And there was this terrific little incident back in 1996 that perfectly illustrated Chretien’s penchant for koan-like opacity. He was walking through a crowd of protestors, and one of them got up close in his face. Rather than have his security-guard detail deal with it, Chretien (who is, like, 6’ 2” tall) simply grabbed the guy by the neck and hurled him to the ground himself.

He was called upon to apologize for this, and I’ll quote his statement verbatim:

I don’t know.
What happened?
If you don’t know,
the cameras were there.
Some people came in my way,
it might have been…
I had to go.
So if you are in my way,
I am walking.
So I don’t know what happened.
Something happened
to somebody
who should not have been there.

I’m in awe. Who’s writing this guy’s speeches these days? Samuel Beckett?

This speech, actually, became famous in Canada because it was transcribed by the poet Stuart Ross, entitled “A Minor Altercation”, and included in his book The Inspiration Cha-Cha.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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