Thursday, March 30, 2006

Harper/Bush: "Cut From The Same Cloth"

Several bloggers, including myself, have detailed Harper's strategy of approaching every issue with vote potential in mind. Gerard Kennedy has called the Conservatives agenda a "marketing" strategy, offering palatable policies to curry favor from the electorate. The short-sighted goal of attaining a majority betrays the long-term best interests of the country.

With this philosophy in mind, it is curious that Harper chooses to engage in such a high-profile "outreach" with the Bush administration. In Canada, there are few things as unpopular as the government to the south:
The poll also found that 69 per cent of Canadians believe Mr. Bush's election was a bad thing, compared with 58 per cent who thought the same way right after he was given a second term. By contrast, 19 per cent think his election was positive, down seven points from November of 2004...

The survey, for example, found that in Quebec, 81 per cent of those surveyed thought Mr. Bush's re-election was a bad thing. The poll also found that 70 per cent agreed with the statement that, although they value the United States and its citizens, they disagree fundamentally with the government.

With public sentiment in mind, Harper hardly benefits from comments such as these:
The trip also sent a message to Washington, according to John Hulsman, an analyst for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

''That was to show the cavalry is back in town, that they're not going to be anti-American,'' he said. ``Harper, like Bush, has a black-and-white, good-and-evil view of the world -- they're cut from the same cloth...''

''If George Bush can't get along with Stephen Harper, he can't get along with any world leader,'' said David Taras, a political science professor at the University of Calgary. ``They're ideological cousins, if not twins.''

Politically speaking, the last thing Stephen Harper needs is the perception that he ideologically similar to an essentially "radical" Bush regime, particularly in Quebec where anti-Bush sentiment is strongest. This policy will serve as an achilles heel that the opposition can capitalize on. Given, Harper's priority of offering political goodies to win votes, he may want to reconsider his "closer" ties with Bush. Harper's strategy is even more confusing, given the current climate in America, where elected Republicans have found it necessary to distance themselves from Bush if they hope for re-election this fall. In aligning closely with Bush, Harper reveals the mirage that he is a moderate and the opposition should exploit the contradiction.


Anonymous said...

yeah suddenly bush has a change of heart regarding the soft wood lumber dispute, oh the timing of it all!

bush extends olive branch to harper has canadian soldiers die in afghanistan, sick!

Scotian said...

What I have to wonder is whether Harper really believed his own rhetoric about anti-Americanism in this country being a political chimera exploited by "the left" or whether he recognizes it for the reality it is thanks to the actions of the Bush government. If the former than he is going to think it helps him to show Canada is no longer "anti-American", if the latter then he should recognize the very real danger/weakness being seen as similar to Bush in ideology represents.

Either way though Harper in reality will be willing to sell Canada out to Bush if he thinks he can use it to gain a majority government out of it so as to implement his real agenda, whatever that may be. I am one of those that found his sudden road to Damascus conversion from policies and principles he had consistently held for over fifteen years in the last election more than a little suspect. Which in turn means I find his current direction and "5 priorities" bit not the real agenda but the means to gain sufficient power to bring it forward. I listened to Harper since the late 80s early 90s when he had first become noticeable on the federal political scene to those of us that watch politics regularly. I know that the Harper of the 2005 election campaign was nowhere near the Harper of his entire prior history to that point.

Therefore it is perfectly logical and reasonable to believe that the new Harper is a front, since he has never explained what lead to his massive conversion on so many issues and principles. I can believe a man and politician can change his views, but until I hear the reasoning behind it because they have publicly explained it then I do not believe it to be genuine. Harper has never made such explanations so I do not believe it, especially given his consistency for the prior 15 years or so.

Like Cerberus I believe we are seeing a permanent election campaign and not a government. Viewed from that perspective Harper's actions, especially regarding Emerson, Fortier (both the Senate appointment which was unnecessary as well as giving him Public Works/Patronage central), Shapiro and the media clampdown and restrictions he has been enacting, even to the odd notion that it is a good idea to keep when Cabinet meets a secret begins to make a disturbing kind of sense.

Nice post.

Steve V said...

"Therefore it is perfectly logical and reasonable to believe that the new Harper is a front, since he has never explained what lead to his massive conversion on so many issues and principles"

It all comes down to packaging, coupled with the failure of the media to give the "conversion" the critical eye required.

Annamarie said...

Nice post, and I agree with you guys. Where is our more 'liberal' media? Or 'unbiased' media? I guess they've been effectively cowed like their US counterparts.

BTW, Bush and Harper are both students of the Straussian 'school' about which I posted a while back, just before our last election. It's on my site, but things are hard to find there (for me, anyway). But you probably know about this.

Steve, I couldn't find anything else about the polar bears either. Thanks for your comment about them on my post.

Steve V said...


I have a bad feeling that polar bears may become extinct in our lifetime, it is that serious. You do a great job of highlighting the environment on your blog.