Distractions of the day
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.