Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gay prime minister?

Robin Sears, once a national director and campaign manager for the New Democrat, now one of those political consultants, and currently doing hard time as Brian Mulroney's official media spokesman, reviews Bob Plamondon's Blue Thunder in the National Post. He picks up on Plamondon's too sly hint ("questions about his private life persist") that R.B. Bennett may have been gay.

These historical possibilities ought to be aired rather than nudge-nudged. There has actually been an interesting and sometimes serious discussion in the United States of the possibility that Abraham Lincoln was gay (sorry, no links because I have not been keeping track -- suggestions welcome) and how that might influence interpretations of him. My own (slight) acquaintance with the Bennett story has always given me the impression that he was about the most celibate person who ever lived.

Plamondon's Blue Thunder is a history of the Conservative prime ministers. Sears treats Plamondon as a professor (pedantry, bad writing, etc), but Plamondon's publisher's website calls him "author, historian, consultant and public policy specialist," and only then "a full- and part-time professor at three Canadian universities." (In history? Doesn't say.) He seems to have been principally a Conservative political activist, and he's certainly been effective in promoting this book -- getting the Globe to report on statements about Mulroney that Plamondon got from Conrad Black (that Black soon corrected) and effectively launching the recent story of a Mulroney-Harper spat. Not clear if the coverage of the Bennett thing is another publicity gesture (hey, an author has to move the book), or Sears's contribution.

(Hat-tip: The Idea File)
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