I warn readers that I just had one of my most outrageous and embarrassing dreams ever. The dream started when I was just beginning my column. The phone rang. I answered it. It was Bob Rae.
“Is that you, Frank Kennedy?”
“Yes, is that you, ‘Bungling Bob’ Rae?”
Rae laughed uncomfortably. “They warned me that you had quite a sense of humour. My people want to soften my image. That’s why I went on the Rick Mercer Report recently. Rick’s a funny guy and we traded a lot of barbs. It was a huge success. I heard that you ran for the Liberals in the Ontario election in ’71. Deep down, they thought you still might be a Liberal. That’s why they suggested I get in touch with you. They also wanted to show the people my lighthearted side and you might be the man to do it. They said you were at Queen’s Park for over 15 years, but I don’t recall your name.”
“Don’t worry, Bob,” I said. “A lot of people at Queen’s Park don’t recall your name, either.”
“I’m hoping, Frank, that you will look at the positive things I did while I was in office. I’m sorry to have to run, but I’m having lunch shortly with Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the well-known abortionist, a staunch, brave humanitarian, if I’ve ever met one.”
For a couple of seconds, I couldn’t find where my tongue went. I was gasping for breath. Rae carried on.
“Frank, I’m asking you for a favour. Would you be willing to take my place and respond to some hard, spontaneous questions from the floor of the leadership convention by a few delegates? Each serious candidate is allowed 10 minutes. Our people will fax you 10 questions about my stand on various questions for you to look at. It will be done live on national TV.”
I couldn’t believe my luck. What a chance to evangelize the ignorant. It was as if Bob Rae had offered me a lifetime supply of Famous Grouse scotch. I said, “I’ll do it. Why shouldn’t the people get to know the real Bob Rae?” Rae agreed.
The “spontaneous” questions were faxed to me. Shortly afterwards, I got a call from Bob Rae’s people that his 10-minute slot was coming up. I was hooked up to CTV and tuned into the Liberal leadership convention. The place was swarming with noisy delegates, placards, signs and the aura of a circus gone mad.
The first question by one of the panelists was: “Why would you think Bob Rae would make a better prime minister than any other candidate?” I grabbed the phone and spluttered: “You mean ‘Bungling Bob’ Rae? He didn’t even make a good premier of Ontario! Remember Rae Days? He wanted teachers to work 11 days for free! I don’t know of any politician who ever worked 11 days for free. While he was in office, the Ontario economy showed definite signs of rigor mortis, unemployment jumped, budget deficits headed towards Mars. Rae is just another Belinda Stronach joining the Liberal party, because he wants to jump on the horse he thinks is going to win. Next!” There were some screams and then a deadening silence in the convention.
Another panelist read: “Why do you think that Bob Rae would make a better prime minister than Michael Ignatieff?” I said: “I don’t think Rae would. But we don’t need another Clinton or Pierre Trudeau clone running the country either. Get back to Harvard, Iggy. Next!” Another scream of anguish from the audience and threats against the physical well-being of Frank Kennedy. Another deadly silence.
Another panelist read: “Why do you think that Bob Rae would make a better prime minister than Gerard Kennedy?” (No relation.) “I don’t think Bob Rae would make a better prime minister than any of these stumblebums seeking Harper’s job. They’re all a pack of pro-abort, anti-family fascists and tax thieves. Delegates! Listen to me! Get out of there! You don’t have any choices! Go home! Go home! Get out! This isn’t the Liberal party! This is the Decadence Party!”
Suddenly, they cut me off.
I woke up on the bedroom floor with a Machiavellian smile on my face, as if I’d won a great battle. My wife, Ileen, leaning over me, wanted to know why I was smiling so wickedly. I told her I had dreamt of the wonderful turkey she had baked for Thanksgiving Day dinner.
I don’t think she believed me.