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Lezlie Lowe wants Condi Rice to get real

I’m trying to come to terms with something Dr. Phil once said: when you’re late (and I am — consistently), you don’t care enough to be on time.

It’s classic Dr. Phil, whose take-responsibility — or, as he calls it, “get real” — pop psychology might well be dubbed “deal with your own shit, lady.”

I don’t often find myself trying to reconcile with Dr. Phil’s advice, but I’m on a dealing-with-my-own-shit kick right now, and my procrastination habit is on top of the list.

It was Condoleezza Rice who spurred me into action. The US secretary of state made a very late visit indeed to Canada two weeks ago. She took her state department post in January 2005 and had her Manolos packed to trot up in the second week of April, but when PM Paul Martin pulled Canada out of the US missile defense shield plan, suddenly, according to Rice spokesperson Richard Boucher, “schedules didn’t work out.”

Six months later, Rice made it to Canada for two days of meetings. By then, though, she had already done the rounds in 40 other countries. It left me wondering: does Condi ever watch Dr. Phil?

Perhaps she ought to. Rice needn’t consider it a guilty mid-afternoon pleasure; she could write it off as a way to gain an unmitigated view of what occupies the minds of American women. Best I can tell, the hot-button issues are potty training and weight-loss. (This explains why there are still 500-odd terror suspects being held by the US without charge at Guantanamo Bay while former US ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci is on CBC Radio’s The Current telling Canadian social justice activist Maude Barlow she should be glad America is spreading open market economies and bringing freedom to the world.)

Rice and Martin went tete-a-tete on issues like passports (which Canadians cruising over the US border will be required to carry beginning in 2008) and illegal guns (which are already, Canada alleges, cruising over the border from the US). But topping the bill was softwood lumber.

The simpleton’s version of this dispute goes like this: Washington has slapped $5 billion in tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber being sold in the US. Several North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization panels have ruled the duties illegal and argued the US should return most of the cash. In response, the US has flipped the bird.

In Ottawa, Rice told Canadians to tone down their softwood lumber ’tude, or “apocalyptic language.” And insisted, in the face of pokes about her country’s rebuffs of trade panels by which they are bound, “the word of the United States has been as good as gold.” This is so patently wrong, it makes Rice look like a madwoman.

Her comments made me feel like I’m in a madhouse, like Susan Trinder, the protagonist of Sarah Waters’s novel of “engrossing lesbian Victoriana” (that’s Amazon.com, not me) Fingersmith. In Fingersmith Trinder is tricked into a madhouse by a scheming crew after her fortune. The trouble is, the more she — like Paul Martin — huffs and puffs that she’s been done wrong, the crazier she sounds in the eyes of her keeper — that would be the Americans who, according to Paul Cellucci, now hold the key to our survival since we opted-out of missile defense.

Oh, god, look, now I’m blaming Condoleezza Rice for feeling like I’m a prisoner in a madhouse. I wonder who Condi blames for being so late and rude? Perhaps we should watch Dr. Phil together sometime. Then we could remind each other to get real.

Deal with your own shit.or Email: lezliel@thecoast.ca.

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