Chris Rock said it best when speaking about the wackos in society, “What ever happened to crazy!” Sometimes there’s just no other explanation. Trump and many of his Republican lickspittles – starting with Mike Pence and descending precipitously to Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Jim Jordon, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene and finally former senate majority leader and self-interested lout Mitch McConnell – seem to me to fit well into that generalized category of sadly deranged people. While Trump may be a circus ringleader he’s not up to the standards of intelligence and logic expected in public office. As digestible and entertaining as he may be Trump is not the calibre of leadership required. And just because there are millions who are labelled by the pundits as Trump supporters, I am convinced the persuasion is the same that attracts people to daytime television – which frankly I consider utterly void of penetration yet it is regrettably fodder to a near majority. In the binary political system of the United States of America this evident conflict between minority and majority is to be expected – there’s literally no other way to vote, just one or the other. But unlike horseshoes and grenades, close doesn’t count!
While bicycling in the neighbourhood at 5:18 am this morning I concluded upon reflection that I have devoted most of my life to what is for some – maybe even for most – the tarsome investigation of detail and particularity, admittedly sometimes to the point of obsession but always with an ultimate view to certainty, accuracy and precision.
When I landed in Almonte with my Yellow Labrador puppy in June of 1976 exactly 45 years ago, my first notable encounter with another County solicitor frosted me. He and I were involved in a real estate transaction. I acted for the purchasers and raised a critical issue concerning the legitimacy of the vendors’ title. It was one of those awkward Planning Act issues which could only be resolved by judicial pronouncement – at least without having to undertake drawn out remedial action. The other solicitor – who refused to address the objection – chose instead to tell me that, “We don’t do things that way here.” Somehow he felt entitled by virtue of his prior admission to the local bar to bamboozle me with what was effectively a corporate agreement to ignore detail. It turned out we went to court and got the mutually satisfactory judgement which enabled us to close the deal. The hooker however is that years later when my erstwhile clients sold the property, the same objection to title arose once again but this time at the behest of an Ottawa solicitor acting for the new purchasers. Naturally I was smugly able to produce the court order which clarified the dilemma and that was the end of the matter.
If I may be permitted to continue this historic account of my confrontation with particulars, not long after the first incident I challenged the status of a well known local construction company. Indeed so popular was the corporation that no one had bothered to verify the legitimacy of its current status with the Province of Ontario. Once again it was a matter easily resolved by the corporation but the important point is that the initial reaction was abject denial and the inference of balefulness on my part or at the very least arrogance for having presumed to make the challenge.
Though originally my office was in the basement of Messrs. Galligan & Sheffield, Barristers &c. not long afterwards I was transferred to the former office of Raymond A. Jamieson QC on Mill Street. In the process of acting for many of Mr. Jamieson’s erstwhile clients I regularly uncovered technical glitches which either by design or misadventure had been overlooked. In every instance the matters in question were determined not so much by me as by superior bureaucratic bodies such as the Boundaries Act board or the Land Registry Office. I was quickly developing a notoriety for detail, the expression of which notably came with a cost. This naturally dissuaded some from using me while it encouraged others to do so for the opposite reason.
I always considered myself a deal maker, not a deal breaker; and never did I deliberately look for problems other than in the performance of what I thought to be standard due diligence. I also devoted enormous time to the esoteric niceties of inter vivos trust agreements which even absorbed a local judge for whom I acted on occasion. It was not an exact science but it most certainly wasn’t overtaken by brash dismissals or unfounded objections.
My indiscriminate pickiness once led me into conflict with a real estate agent. She had drawn the purchase agreement to specify that the vendor would provide a survey of the property. When I had the document examined by an Ontario Land Surveyor he confirmed my suspicion that the plan was not a survey but rather an estimate of property boundaries and setbacks. I insisted upon the production of a survey in accordance with the terms of the agreement. The vendor objected, championing that he only intended to provide what he had and that he had relied upon the estate agent when drafting the sale contract. The solicitor for the vendor agreed that the fault lay with the estate agent so she ended paying for it. Clearly it was an unintended result but the fault lay somewhere.
As you no doubt can see from the picayune nature of these esoteric and seemingly trifling issues, they hardly agitate a riveted audience. This is where Trump and his minions come in. They capture the attention of their audience instead by “saying it like it is” which naturally is gobbledegook for descending to a similarly illiterate or unintelligent level or incapacity as their audience. Trump’s specious adornment of himself as a raving capitalist is rendered by a history of failed businesses, bankruptcies, swindling of the trades and prolonged pointless legal arguments designed only to wear down his opponents. There is no underlying interest to buoy anything other than commercial greed. If – as I suspect is the intention of Trump and his gang – winning is the only game (and not the potentially wasteful discovery of truth and agreement), Trump’s qualifications need have nothing to do with such infrastructure but only the superficial performance. His cronies are in for the mix and hopeful lottery, similarly motivated by whatever it takes to win. It is a small compliment to democracy and government and (given the current state of insurrection) something about which to be concerned.