Dis­trac­tions of the day

The Compass - - Editorial -

You can never un­der­es­ti­mate the sheer bizarre na­ture of what we pay at­ten­tion to. Last Tues­day brought all of the thrills and chills of a rac­coon climb­ing the out­side of a 21-floor build­ing in St. Paul, Min­nesota.

Of all the things hap­pen­ing in the world, of bomb­ings and sto­ries about the ware­hous­ing of chil­dren in de­ten­tion cells in the U.S. and ques­tions about world­wide trade wars trig­gered by a U.S. pres­i­dent’s irk, many were trans­fixed in­stead by the ques­tion of whether a rac­coon would reach the top of the build­ing, or fall.

Keep in mind that the masked crit­ters are called “trash pan­das” in Toronto, and are classed as a nui­sance. Keep in mind also, that in many parts of North Amer­ica, scores of rac­coons, along with skunks and por­cu­pines, die daily with lit­tle or no fan­fare on high­ways and by­ways.

But this trash panda was be­ing live-streamed by a CBS af­fil­i­ate, along with re­port­ing both by peo­ple inside the build­ing and jour­nal­ists tasked with re­port­ing on the rac­coon’s trek to the roof, where live traps baited with cat food awaited.

Oh, and then there’s the weird, weird world of pol­i­tics. Ten years ago, could any­one even imag­ine that a premier from this prov­ince would write to the pres­i­dent of the United States, of­fer­ing tickets for a joint night out at a Broad­way show?

That’s what Premier Dwight Ball did last Tues­day, invit­ing Don­ald Trump to a per­for­mance of “Come From Away.” Ball sug­gested the mu­si­cal could help Trump un­der­stand the friend­ship be­tween Canada and the U.S., and pro­vide a fo­rum to dis­cuss Trump’s “un­jus­ti­fied tar­iffs.”

In ad­di­tion to mail­ing the let­ter, Ball’s staff posted it on the premier’s Twit­ter ac­count, tag­ging Trump’s ac­count in the process, per­haps think­ing that would be the best way to reach the pres­i­dent. (That be­ing said, any­one who views tweets and replies on Trump’s Twit­ter ac­count knows there’s no pos­si­ble way that Trump reads what other peo­ple post; he’d be so en­raged his head would burst. Trump’s Twit­ter en­gage­ment is 100 per cent oneway.)

No doubt, that frip­pery will make its way across the na­tion, the oblig­a­tory quirky hit for news out­lets and news read­ers ev­ery­where: “Mean­while, in New­found­land ...”

You can only won­der how it came about: a few com­mu­ni­ca­tions or po­lit­i­cal staff talk­ing about Trump and tar­iffs, an off-the-cuff, “It’s like he’s never seen ‘Come From Away’... You know what would be cool?”

And a stunt is born. Trump will prob­a­bly not even see the let­ter or the tweet. And af­ter Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence was fa­mously booed at “Hamil­ton” and Robert De Niro got a stand­ing ova­tion for say­ing “F--k Trump” from the stage at the Tony Awards, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion prob­a­bly views Broad­way as less-than-neu­tral ground.

The world to­day - where ev­ery­thing is a sideshow. Oh, and the rac­coon is ap­par­ently safe.

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