Covering his behind

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I don’t know if George Smitherman has higher aspirations than his current political office, but if he does, he can be sure that one, small scatological comment will stain him the rest of the days. Just call him a typical politician – a guy who wanted to make sure his butt was covered – in a quite literal way.

Smitherman, of course, is the Ontario Health Minister who said in a McKnight’s Daily Update item last week that he was seriously considering wearing an adult diaper (OK, “brief,” to those in the business) to examine the plight of nursing home residents in Canada.

Fellow politicians and labor leaders in Her Majesty’s North American outpost instantly shredded him in the media. Meanwhile, the rest of us just snickered at the ham-handed grandstanding.

In one way it just goes to show that politicians from America’s big little brother to the north still have a lot to learn. If Smitherman wanted to make a point about supposed insufficient staffing levels or work conditions, he could have taken a page out the playbook of John Edwards, Hillary Rodham Clinton and others. They courted favor recently with union types by walking for a few hours in their caregiving shoes.

Instead, Smitherman laid it all on the line in another way. On Tuesday, he wound up backtracking, saying his strategy might not have been the best idea.

Then again, look at the way the media, Internet surfers and water-cooler crowd took the bait. Smitherman wound up garnering plenty of publicity, without having to strap on anything promising extra absorbency.

Still, it brings to mind the classic observation: Politicians and baby diapers should be changed often -- and for much the same reason.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.