, 08.29.2023 01:08 PM

My latest: we love covfefe

BOSTON – A few years back, Jean Chrétien said this:

“A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It’s a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it’s because it’s proven.”

Get that? It’s quite a few years later, and I still don’t. And I worked for the guy (some say I still do).

I mean, you could read those words 100 times, backwards and forwards, and you’d still have a hard time figuring it out. Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s like a Rubik’s Cube with 17 sides. You can’t do it.

Politics being a business for people who are nasty, brutish and short-tempered, I thought Chretien’s words – uttered in a Parliament Hill scrum, back when he was Prime Minister – would be roundly mocked and ridiculed.

I thought Conservatives, with their tiny black hearts, would belittle him. I thought us Chretienite spin doctors would be sent out to explain the unexplainable.

Nope. Not needed. Nobody understood what Chrétien had said, really, but it didn’t matter. They loved it.

I later mentioned my bewildered befuddlement to a Tory friend. He laughed. “Oh, I loved that,” he said of the now-legendary Proof Is A Proof thing. “Classic Chrétien.”

Which brings us to Joe Biden, another politician I have worked for, full disclosure and all that. I’m down here in the U.S. of A., and my gal brought it to my attention. “Did you see what Biden did in Hawaii?” asked E. I winced.

In politics, when you get a question like that, it almost always precedes bad news. Like: did you see Robert Stanfield try and catch that football? (He didn’t.) Or: did you see Preston Manning actually read French cue cards at the French debate? (He did.) And so on.

So, when he was in Hawaii to survey the terrible damage and destruction and death caused by the Maui fire, my guy Joe Biden said he understood what the people of Hawaii had gone through. Because he’d almost lost his ’67 Corvette one time.

Seriously, he said that. This is exactly what he said: “Lightning struck at home, on a little lake that’s outside of our home—not a lake, a big pond—and hit a wire that came up underneath our home into the heating ducts and air conditioning ducts. To make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat.”

His Corvette. And his cat.

Is it bad? It’s bad. Is it embarrassing? It’s embarrassing.

Will it matter? It won’t matter.

Stay with me, here. I know you conservative types already hate me for working for Chretien and Biden. I get it. How can I work for two guys who can’t string two sentences together, you’ll say on Twitter or whatever the Hell it’s called now.

Except, conservatives, if you are being honest with yourselves – hard, I know – you’ll admit that you’ve got your fair share of politicos who mangle meaning, gut grammar and shred syntax. You’ve got conservatives who deal in multiple malapropisms and mistakes, too.

Take George W. Bush. Remember this gem? “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.” Or: “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.” Or, my all-time favorite: “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”

And you know what happened after W. said those sorts of things? He got re-elected, that’s what. People didn’t get mad. They laughed.

Donald Trump, too. Most of the time, it sounds like the cheese has slipped off the Mango Mussolini’s cracker. “The buck stops with everybody,” he said once. Another time, speaking about trade with China, he said: “We have the cards, don’t forget, we’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed, we have the cards.”

Seriously: what does any of that have to do with trade or China? Beats me. And: Would you like a cup of covfefe to wash those down?

The point – and I have one – is this: humans make mistakes. Everyone does. It’s one of the things that makes us human.

People therefore like politicians who make mistakes, too: it makes them seem more like humans, and not lying, conniving criminals, which is what many of them are, most of the time.

So, cut Biden some slack. Bush and Trump for their verbal missteps, too. Nobody’s perfect.

You want proof? Well, a proof is a proof. Because it’s proven.


  1. Robert White says:

    Scientific proofs & Economic proofs are proven facts.
    A proof is a proof because it’s proven scientifically
    and as such it becomes fact based proven science.

    Mr. Chretien is logically correct IMHO.

    The others are just plain muddled by comparison.

    Lastly, Chretien was likely referencing thought about
    legal proofs rather than scientific or economic proofs.

    Bush is uneducated, too. Biden is getting old, but he’s
    still better than the alternative Republican, frankly.

  2. Curious V says:

    “A good proof is when it’s proven” – makes sense to me

  3. Sean says:

    There is much political wisdom here. Political people often think voters want the sort of guy who could win a sanctioned debating tournament.

    This is dead wrong. What voters want, what voters trust, is someone who reminds them of their uncle, neighbor, cousin.

    Elections aren’t about electing the debating champ anymore. They are about voters saying “fu#&k you” to the debating champ.

    The reason Chretien’s “proof is a proof if its proven” line did so well was because it spoke to what Canadians were feeling in the gut at the time. They didn’t want Canada to be embroiled in the most unjust war in a generation. They’d had enough of the the Bush team’s baloney at the U.N.. If there really were WMDs… then f&%king prove it. Slippery diplomatic gymnastics is the opposite of proof. This is how Canadians felt about the issue in their gut. Chretien knew it and in that moment he spoke for Canada.

    • Martin Dixon says:

      Except, with respect, that isn’t what happened. That is rewriting history. They were all set to go but Quebec politics intervened. They bought the intelligence just like everyone else did so that was nothing to be ashamed of. Abandoning your strongest ally because of internal politics is not something to be proud of and I told Jane that very thing when they gave Chretien a standing O in the house while American boys were going to war.

      • Martin,

        Saddam was a piece of shit but that wasn’t our problem and going into Iraq was nothing more than American folly. Sure, he had tried to off H.W. after Iraq was driven out of Kuwait, but that was not a sufficient pretext to put Canadian soldiers’ lives on the line. So, yes, we bought the bogus intelligence like everyone else but thank God the fates inspired Chrétien not to go. I will support that decision right up until I croak. Great job, Mr. Chrétien.

        We did our duty in Afghanistan has we should have. Nothing more should have been required of us.

        • Martin Dixon says:

          Ronald, you are missing my point. History is being rewritten as to WHY he didn’t go. Suppose we would have stayed out of Afghanistan because of a Quebec election. What say you then?

    • It’s nice to see our gracious host (who blocked me on Twitter (X) for provable impertinence !) commenting in better tone .. not to mention the admirable paint interpretations & rural artistry

      Your comment is excellent & refreshing.. & it’s my view truly an accurate revelation.. though in reality .. and the daily propaganda polls – the idea that ‘people who will vote for Pierre Poilievre’ that don’t actually live in Carleton Riding seems to have escaped all but those who Do Live In Carleton Riding.. and that includes The Pollsters, & the Select Stable of Approx 1,250 ‘dependable selected, secret, approved Citizens Polling on a variety of ‘Context & Questions’ ! FYI .. that’s less ‘Canadians’ than were aboard the Toronto subway train I rode yesterday ..

    • Martin Dixon says:

      That is who Ford reminds voters of. Note that he is managing to put some lipstick on the Greenbelt pig issue.

  4. Warren,

    Let me help: “Une preuve est une preuve. Quelle sorte de preuve? C’est une preuve. Une preuve est une preuve. Et lorsque vous avez une bonne preuve, c’est parce que la preuve a été faite.”


    “Proof is proof. What kind of proof? It’s proof. Proof is proof. And when you have good proof, it’s because the proof has been proven.”

    (Those of us who are bilingual got it right away.)

    • if only you could translate the now infamous ‘he’s now calling Canadians misogynists & racists !’

      PS.. Stanfield caught more than ten kicks..
      and you can look that up..
      but which photo went Front Page ?

      • TS,

        Yup, I was PCP and am now CPC but had I had access to that infamous shot, I would have run with it with relish. Sensation knows no bounds. And I thought Stanfield was just grand, especially compared to Dief who was Class A asshole post-Dalton-Camp.

      • Salamander,

        I don’t need a translation for that one. As much as I despise this Prime Minister, I would go with if the shoe fits here and in my book, Trudeau was dead on target in this instance.

        • On my best day, I loathe those convoy types. Enough said.

          • Gilbert says:

            Joe Biden now wants funding for an injection that works. What does that say about the current one?

          • Martin Dixon says:

            Ok, I bit.


            ““I signed off this morning on a proposal we have to present to the Congress a request for additional funding for a new vaccine that is necessary, that works,” Biden, who is vacationing in the Lake Tahoe area, told reporters on Friday.

            He added that it’s “tentatively” recommended “that everybody get it,” once the shots are ready.”

            I guess that quote makes Warren’s point. So many questions if you parse that.

          • Gilbert,

            It’s like one size fits all. Medically impossible even in the best of circumstances. What you strive for is the highest percentage of positive outcomes and the lowest of adverse or chronic side effects or outcomes. People have in rare instances dropped dead after taking an ASA tablet. But I digress.

            I’m now at the point of wondering if COVID-19 is permanently with us. Not talking about having reached herd immunity because we haven’t. But variants do what they naturally do, meaning mutate. That requires vaccine adjustments, that are not magic bullets. I will keep getting jabbed as part of a small minority. Others will take their chances and life with the health outcomes. As to potential future death rates, who really knows. I doubt realistic projections are even scientifically or medically possible. Hope most people are good with God. What can I say.

  5. Gilbert says:

    It’s true that everyone makes mistakes. I think Jean Chretien meant to say that solid evidence was necessary to convince him. The current PM referred to Shinzo Abe as the Prime Minister of China, but that’s not as bad as claiming the Baltic republics don’t exist.

  6. western view says:

    Politicians are human and should be allowed to make mistakes. The voting public can then decide whether punishment should be meted out.
    I wish that we could expand this intellectual generosity to also allow politicians to change their minds. The rules of the game are punitive to any politician stupid enough to recall a previous position and formulate a new one. Why is that? When new information comes to light that makes a previously held view redundant, it is an enlightened mind that recognizes that and changes course.
    We need more enlightened minds in politics rather than rigid opinions that try to explain how a square peg is really made to fit in a round hole.

    • WV,

      From The Guardian:

      “In the 1974 campaign, Stanfield announced that Canada needed wage and price controls to bring inflation to heel. Trudeau campaigned negatively against the policies – but instituted them after he won.”

      • western view says:

        Only to discover that fibbing to the electorate cost him cred, and that wage and price controls were a dumb idea to begin with.

  7. Mark D says:

    Warren, put me down as another lifelong conservative who sincerely appreciated this quote from former prime minister Chretien.

    Though as other have noted, it may have something to do with me being part francophone. Something that had never occured to me before others suggested it today in your combox.

    I personally could never understand why some folks found his quote difficult to understand. Your revelation that even you struggled to make sense of it came as a complete surprise to me.

    For me it is just Chretien speaking the practical common sense with which he was gifted.

  8. Innocent III says:

    As idiotic as Biden’s response was in the instance that you cite, Chief Magistrate, the greater stupidity in my opinion was to answer ‘No comment’ when asked about the hellfire in Hawaii. His office claims that he didn’t hear the question but if that was the truly the case, wouldn’t ‘Pardon me?’ have been the more appropriate reply?

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