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Words of Wisdom

When not marvelling at the Rogers Cup tennis doings of Federer, Djokovic and Dancevic, I spent a good portion of my weekend with Conrad Black’s take on Richard Nixon. While a doorstopper at over a thousand pages, this biography has the considerable advantage of an author who strongly, clearly and, dare I say, obsessively identifies with his subject. Read through the prism of recent events, the book’s last chapter is like a road map to Black’s version of his own redemption. And while I doubt he imagined having to come back from a stretch in the slammer, Black need only flip open his notebook to remind himself what qualities of character are necessary to persevere and eventually triumph in a Nixonian fashion: “By showing no contrition, but regret at errors committed and carefully laying out his version of the facts, with some remorse, but no guilt or confession of crimes, Nixon gradually seized control of the national puritanical conscience that assaulted him.”

An interesting sidecar to all this is Black’s evident admiration for all parties to the 1977 Frost Nixon interviews, which arguably launched Nixon’s comeback. (The first night of the multi-part interview drew 50 million viewers.) A word to the wise: no matter how incompetent the CBC might appear to the general Canadian public, all would be forgiven were The Corpse to organize a cool, competent interviewer (Brian Stewart?) to sit with Black for a couple of hours to discuss the facts of the case and the broader subject of his life to date. The numbers would be huge. And for once the CBC might come reasonably close to fulfilling its mandate.

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