If, as they say, it’s a short leap from delusional to suicidal, I fear Conrad Black is not long for the high jump.
Exhibit “A”: Tubby’s astonishing huff-and-puff in the National Post last week in which he declared that Donald Trump is “already the most successful U. S. president since Ronald Reagan.”
Of course, poor Conrad has always had a tenuous grip on the verité, as revealed most embarrassingly in Lies, Lies, Lies, his classic Daily Telegraph essay of a decade ago, on the eve of His Lardship’s 2008 fraud trial in Chicago.
“At the worst moment of the financial assault on me by the US government, I was able to refinance
some assets and have been able to bear the very heavy legal bills. I will see this through and ask no one to fight my battles for me.”
In boasting he would cover his own legal costs, Black neglected to mention the fact that 75 per cent of the bills from his criminal case were paid by Hollinger International, through its insurance policies.
“Tom Bower’s portrayal of my youth and family [from Bower’s book, Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge] was an astonishing farrago of snide falsehoods. My parents home did not have legions of domestic help, was far from a ‘loveless atmosphere’; there were no ‘all-night sessions’ with my father, when I was a child or afterwards, and never a ‘lecture’ from him on ‘supremacy and manipulation’.”
As early as page three of his autobiography, A Life in Progress, Tubby wrote of the loveless atmosphere at his childhood home. His parents were “an improbable pair.”
“It was never obvious to me…what they had in common.” There were “saddening conjugal abrasions,” as his mother went to bed after dinner while his father sat up all night. As for the “paternal lectures,” Conrad mentioned these to Peter C. Newman and wrote of them in his own memoirs.
His father, George, was fired for alcoholism and provoking industrial unrest which threatened the company’s profits. In his autobiography (p. 148), Conrad wrote that his father “had never been very pleased about the unceremonious manner in which he left Canadian Breweries.”
“I went to school in car-pools with neighbours and never once in a Cadillac, as in Bower’s fictional account.”
Black’s faithful retainer, John Fraser, told Bower he saw Conrad arriving daily to UCC in a chauffeur-driven Cadillac.
“My academic career did not end in failed law exams. I graduated well enough in law and also took an MA.”
On pages 32 and 33 of his autobiography, Conrad wrote, “I failed the majority of the subjects, was not allowed to write
the supplementals and, for good measure, was expelled from the faculty and effectively barred from the study of law in
“I have never had a psychiatric diagnosis.”
On page 52 of A Life in Progress, Tubby wrote: “I began to experience worrisome symptoms of tension. Indigestion, claustrophobia…fitful sleep, sudden attacks of perspiring and even hyperventilating. It was more terrifying than anything else I have known.”
A page later, he revealed: “What was recommended was psychoanalysis… I entered into an analytical program in September 1971. The inexorable success of the analytic process was gratifying as well as intriguing as I came gradually to recognize and reduce the sources of the occasional vulnerability to anxiety.”
“I do not own any toy soldiers.”
In September 2003, the National Post interviewed Tubby’s former friend and business associate, Hal Jackman. “The two men have long shared a passion for history and a keen interest in the great military leaders of the past.
“Mr. Jackman sizes up the situation in military terms, just as he did many years ago when he and Mr. Black would spend hours together playing war games with antique toy soldiers.”
“I never referred to Canada disparagingly.”
(Oh, dear, where to begin on this whopper?)
“Uncompetitive, slothful, self-righteous, spiteful, an envious nanny-state, hovering on the verge of dissolution and bankruptcy.[Financial Post, Feb. 6, 1991.]
“There is almost universal dissatisfaction with both the institutions and personalities of Canadian public life and Canada’s confidence and complacency of the past has given way to demoralization and alarm. The missing ingredients in the Canadian puzzle [are] a durable raison d’être for the country.” [Financial Post, Toronto, May 1992.]
“My associates and I became concerned that it would be imprudent not to reduce our exposure to the newspaper business, to debt, and to Canada. My native country, in commercial terms, had for me become not an opportunity, nor even a nationality susceptible to reason, but a trap… Canadian citizenship was merely an impediment to my progress.” [Speech, November 2001, explaining why he became a British citizen.]
“Neither my wife’s jewellery nor our house in Palm Beach is for sale.”
Doubtless, this came as a surprise to Linda Gary Real Estate, the agents who Black commissioned to find a buyer for the $35 million pile and who had confirmed to Private Eye that the mansion was indeed for sale.