Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crazy Enough to Work

A Pinball recruitment would play to typically shallow edge of Liberal politics

If the Liberal party has proven to be adept at anything, it's at catching the wave of a political trend.

In the case of a recent suggestion, it seems that Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein is taking a good hard look at Michael "Pinball" Clemons and seeing a future Liberal star candidate, if not a future Liberal leader.

"He's made a couple of extraordinary speeches to large audiences and people have been mesmerized by him," Grafstein says. "There's a thousand people there, after 10 o'clock at night. This was a sophisticated group of people who had heard a lot of speeches and you could've heard a pin drop. I was all set to go home, but I sat glued to my seat. His is the politics of hope."

It's not to hard to figure out hos Grafestein imagines Clemons: as a Barack Obama-figure-in-waiting, complete with his own take on the Audacity of Hope.

It wouldn't be the first time that the Liberals recruited a former professional athlete into the realm of politics. The Grits managed to attract Ken Dryden into their partisan fold, and he has, to date, been fairly successful. Then again, it would likely be harder for the former Montreal Canadiens great to lose an election, even if he were actually trying to do so.

Grafstein isn't the only individual with his eyes on Clemons' political services. Richard Morris, the City of Toronto's energy efficiency office manager, has him pegged for a future Mayor of Toronto.

"His influence is global. This guy could ... listen, Barack Obama has nothing on Mike Clemons, as far as I am concerned," says Morris. Of course, Morris doesn't rule out higher office yet for Clemons. "Mike's about hope, just like Obama. He needs some federal office to lead us to a broader horizon."

Clemons himself, currently the CEO of the Toronto Argonauts, isn't quite so eager just yet. For one thing, he's still in the process of getting his Canadian citizenship.

For another, he isn't always so eager to voice his opinions. That doesn't mean, however, that he doesn't have any.

"I was always a more serious person than I was represented as," says Clemons. "I'm jovial and smile all the time; I take things lightly so people think you're a lightweight. People who don't know me don't know that I have an opinion. Everything is not okay with me."

As a championship-winning professional -- as an athlete and a coach -- Clemons knows how to be successful. He knows how to win.

While the world of politics features its own specific pitfalls -- which Dryden wasn't quite able to master during his run at the Liberal party leadership -- "Pinball" Clemons has all the necessary components to be an Obama-like figure.

The Liberal talent for studying the marketing methods of American Democrats -- the Liberals closely studied the methodology used to build the political mythology around John F Kennedy and applied them to both Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau -- could quite easily transform Mike Clemons into a political powerhouse.

Canadians shouldn't be surprised to one day see "Pinball" appear in the realm of Canadian politics. The answer that has yet to be answered is: which team will he be playing for?

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