Saturday, July 29, 2006

Paul Wells on Stephen Harper

Reader CdnDiv sent along this link to last week's Macleans article by Paul Wells. (All emphasis mine.)

"Man with a plan" is the headline over Stephen Harper's cover interview in the August Reader's Digest. The subhead informs us that "The Prime Minister is fearless, committed -- and having the time of his life." The Prime Minister tells the magazine he gets a rough ride from reporters: "It's a historic fact" that tension between journalists and the government "is always heightened when it's a Conservative government."

You can see his point. Reader's Digest, for instance, pummels the guy. The headline could have described Harper as "Fearless, committed, studly, agile, a man who combines a genius IQ with the common touch." But it doesn't. Bunch of Communists. Not that he cares.
I read that RD article. Aside from the fact that it was written by one of his consistent cheerleaders, it was enough to gag a maggot. One clear recollection was Harper responding that he was deeply offended on those occasions when people likened him to George W. Bush.

The comparisons might stop if he would quit spouting the Bushco party line, letter for letter.

The good news for Stephen Harper as he enjoys his brief retreat is that his political opponents offer him no serious hazard in the short term. The bad news is that any danger Harper faces comes from Stephen Harper.
As in, say, suggesting that any peacekeeping force on the Israel/Lebanon border should be made up of those countries "neighbours".

Harper threatened to call a snap election over Afghanistan -- two days before announcing that his party favours fixed election dates. It had the smell of improvisation about it. When Peter MacKay announced in June that he had asked Germany's foreign ministry to arrest the Iranian prosecutor who ordered the Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi's death, I asked senior advisers to MacKay and Harper what charges would have been laid against the prosecutor, and in which court. Neither aide had an answer. Catching the guy could have been an overture to fiasco.
Which suggests that neither of those two are getting very good advice either.

At home, Harper pronounces himself beset by demons in fedoras with press cards jammed into the hatbands. In interviews with congenial journalists -- the editor of Reader's Digest used to sing Harper's praises in the Calgary Herald -- Harper explains that the world is unfair to him, demonstrating a shaky grasp of Canadian history along the way. "It's a historical fact that tension is always heightened when it's a Conservative government"? Uh, no. Adversarial journalism in Canada began with the Pipeline Debate in 1956, under a Liberal prime minister. Tension heightened considerably under the Liberal governments of Trudeau and Turner. As for Brian Mulroney, the scribes in the gallery were kitty-cats compared to members of Mulroney's own party, who rebelled and ran candidates against him. Odd that Harper would forget.
Not so odd. Harper has a remarkable tendency to forget things which aren't immediately convenient. Remember that letter to the Wall Street Journal? And, Harper seems to forget the immediate past too. The media gave him a free ride in the last federal election. Otherwise he would have had his feet held to the fire on his history.

Harper doesn't like leaks to reporters. He tells Reader's Digest that "before 1993 -- not just the Conservatives, every government before 1993 -- nobody knew what was said in cabinet or caucus." This is fantasy. Mulroney's aide Pat MacAdam told Peter C. Newman: "Leaks were coming right out of the caucus -- the goddamn place is like a sieve." Trudeau's cabinet leaked so badly the Ottawa Citizen ran a cartoon showing a reporter with a fake moustache sitting at the cabinet table. Preston Manning's autobiography is, in large part, a chronicle of Harper's leaks to reporters to undermine Manning. Odd that he'd forget.
Again, not so odd. Harper is a cold, calculating, little prick. He is, however, a believer in fantasy. Combine his ambition for personal glory with fantasy and you have anything but a student of government. And a politician with a very short memory. The thing is, it will eventually happen to him.

Conservatism opens itself to ridicule when it becomes false nostalgia in pursuit of a world that never existed.
It's just too tough for them to understand that June Cleaver, the conservative heroin of "family values", was actually a three-times married Barbara Billingsly, and that the Flintstones was not a documentary.

No comments: