Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien is a great fan of George W. Bush. Meeting the President in August of 2007 was for O'Brien "the highlight of nine short months of being mayor." So I think it only fair to carry on this comparison, even if "Luck Farry" isn't as catchy as "Buck Fush".
I've heard lots of whining about O'Brien getting beating the rap for electoral misconduct charges. Indeed, most of the people I spoke with prior to the verdict said they hoped he would be convicted. Not that they thought the evidence supported a conviction, but that they hoped he would be convicted, as if it would make a difference.
I, frankly, didn't.
Notwithstanding the merits of the case (or lack thereof), a conviction would have been too convenient. I sure as hell don't want Larry O'Brien to be our mayor, but I don't want him out on a technicality, either; there's no satisfaction in that. Plus, he could have appealed, drawing out the painful affair like so much blood.
I'm also open-minded enough to realize that if he can beat these charges so ballsily, maybe--just maybe--he'd be able to get us out of the multimillion-dollar Siemens lawsuit he got us in. If he can't, at least it's something else to put in the "zero-means-go-fuck-yourself" pile that he'll eventually face.
When O'Brien was first accused and people called for his resignation, I did too. When he was charged and people suggested he should (or predicted he might) resign, I also wanted him out.
But I didn't want him to resign because of the charges--I couldn't give fuck all about the charges. How can people think that's the worst thing about him when it's so obvious that he's a terrible mayor. On that note, he can blame the rest of Council all he wants, but he still has to work with them to get things done--and this he hasn't.
The most good he's accomplished--the most--is a bunch of "strategic planning" exercises with Council, and a number of Mayor's Task Forces, all to develop plans that are promptly forgotten and ignored. All talk, no swagger.
Long before the trial started, I figured he probably wouldn't be convicted. Instead, I hoped that people would see how well the city ran in his absence and would riot to keep him from coming back. (A man can dream.)
Now that the charges have been dismissed and O'Brien's back in the captain's chair (with the Deputy City Clerk at his side to hold his hand), the best we can hope that he takes some sound advice and doesn't run for re-election in 2010. There are plenty of ways for him to do this while saving face. Whatever bullshit excuse he uses, I promise to go along with it.
The City is facing a lot of major issues that need to be resolved, and the last thing we need is for the 2010 mayoral debate to get bogged down with the inevitable distractions that will arise if he is on the ticket.
And here's where Bush returns with a bald head.
When George W. Bush ran for re-election in 2004, everyone wanted him out. Or so it seemed to those who disliked him: He was a terrible ideological president, he got his country into two wars, there was skyrocketing national debt, etc., etc. He stole the last election through the electoral college, but he'd lose handily this time.
Anti-Bushites across the country had their smug heads so far up their own asses that they thought they had a golden ticket to the White House. Instead, they fucked up big time and gave Bush a clear majority of the popular and electoral college vote.
Look at where we are now in Ottawa. We're back in the 2004 Democratic primaries, and our best candidates are all unelectable. At least the Democrats only had a single name on the ballot.
Like Bush, O'Brien won his first election with a minority of the votes, but many seem to be taking it for granted that O'Brien won't be around after 2010. It's a consoling thought, but it's hardly realistic.
If O'Brien is going to be defeated, we can't have a John Kerry as the alternative (or worse, a bunch of John Kerrys). What we need is someone who is more than just "anybody-but-O'Brien". Someone who can disrupt O'Brien's voter base of people who read the Ottawa Sun and listen to CFRA. Alex Cullen, Peter Hume, Jim Watson, Clive Doucet--none of these potential candidates is likely to get to the forefront, particularly with all the bickering between them.
Even though he couldn't run for a third term, I refused to believe the Bush nightmare would be over until it was. He might have had one more trick up his sleeve, like maybe forcing Congress to skip the year 2008 to prevent the election. Or starting another war and declaring a state of emergency to prevent the transition. It wasn't until Barack Obama was inaugurated and Bush was finally, officially, no longer President of the United States of America that I could finally take relief.
Likewise, until Larry O'Brien is no longer our Mayor, I won't dare to anticipate the day Ottawa can wake up from this terrible dream. If he can help make that happen, I would be ever so gracious.