The great advantage to winning is that it masks flaws. Circumstance, strength of the opponent, opportunism and a bit of luck can all dictate fate. It is human nature to heap unbalanced praise onto a victor, while simultaneously vilifying the defeated. Rarely is someone as incredibly adept as the post contest analysis argues.
Within this context, we understand the giddy accolades afforded Stephen Harper after the election, where his political instincts and prowess were lauded. Forgotten is the fact that he faced an opponent irrepairably wounded by a suspect legacy, an electorate ripe for change and some timely accusations outside of his control. Despite what is now "conventional wisdom", I don't see Harper as anything close to a master politician. This doesn't detract from a good campaign, with tight propaganda, but it does put his victory into perspective. I would go so far as to say, that given the massive favorable circumstances, a small minority is more a factual statement on Harper's limitations.
The Emerson fiasco demonstrates, in almost unbelievable terms, the complete and utter lack of natural political instincts at Harper"s disposal. No matter which way I try to rationalize this decision, it always comes out a dud. There was never any political advantage to be had, only blatantly obvious pitfalls. How can someone be so politically tone deaf to not see the hypocrisy on every level? Why appointment a "turncoat" in concert with the added indignity of an "unelected" official?
This affair is a colossal misstep by anyone's measure, primarily because it is entirely self inflicted. Harper chose to make these decisions during his "coming out" party. These moves defy logic and show no comprehension of appearances. Good politics is the art of perception. Harper has provided an insight into a man that lacks simple political instinct.
Previously, I have argued that the Liberals had best delay their leadership convention and focus on retooling the message. Harper's unprovoked blunder should speed up the process exponentially, because clearly the preordained good will and breathing space has evaporated. I can now envision a scenario where this government falls flat on its face and loses confidence quickly. If Harper can make such disasterous decisions on a political softball, it doesn't bode well for his posture moving forward. Harper has negated his ethical pedestal and lost his edge with media and opposition alike. I just shake my head that this man failed to see the consequences of his actions. It really is astounding.