Thursday, October 12, 2006

Harper Plays Gutter Politics

If anyone had any doubts that Stephen Harper is a mean-spirited, political opportunist, who will twist any circumstance to meet his ends, they should disappear after his embarrassing display today. Bob Rae nails it:
They accused him of polarizing the country.

Bob Rae, a strong contender for the party’s top prize, called Harper’s “shameful” comments a “classically thoughtless, deeply divisive thing” to say.

“It’s the politics of the big smear,” said Rae. “I don’t know why he would say such a thing.”

Kennedy:
"Mr. Harper really diminished his post of prime minister by being so unstatesmanlike," Kennedy said.

Ignatieff too:
“It is disgraceful that the prime minister is playing crass politics with the issue of the Middle East,” Ignatieff said in a statement.

“Frankly, it is beneath him and his office to do so.”

Thank-you Mr. Harper. Instead of letting Ignatieff twist in the wind, you couldn't help but try to score a few political points. Now, the issue becomes Harper's despicable attempt to drive a wedge between different ethnic groups, betraying the ideal of Prime Minister who supposedly speaks for all.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember a heated debate amongst Liberals as the events in Lebanon unfolded. Some sympathetic to Israel, some critical, accurately mirroring public sentiment. To characterize the Liberal Party as anti or pro is intellectually dishonest.

Harper hates the Liberal Party. It is not a debate about ideas, but a deep-seated disdain that frankly says more about Harper's internal dynamics than any rational critique. On this occasion, Harper spits on his office to undermine his foes. We don't have a Prime Minister in the traditional sense, we have a shady car salesman that preys on any perceived weakness, with no understanding of ethical conduct. Harper revealed himself today, the glint in his eye as he spoke. This is a man that looks at everything through a political lens. Governing is a chess game, ideals are convenience and the goal of power is revealed in every word. Republican style wedge-politics have arrived in Canada, we should all be proud.

UPDATE
No matter who you support for the leadership, I think we can all agree that Kennedy does a great job of exposing the Harper motivations here.

18 comments:

knb said...

Well put. Of course few of us are proud, (though I understand the spirit of your comment).

I thought Rae came out quickly and consisely. He obviously is not going to let this go...nor should he. One of the more poignant comments however, I thought came from Kennedy. I'm paraphrasing of course, but he brought up the fact that Harper could be called into an International debate tonight, and what has he done to his credibility, more importantly, the credibility of Canada as an honest broker?

Harper was pandering at the lowest level and brought his strategy into clear focus, IMHO.

It remains to be seen what happens within the leadership race, but whoever thought this strategy up for Harper, or perhaps it was off the cuff, I think it was a big mistake, for he revealed himself.

Robert said...

The scary part is Harper will stick by this strategy, because it will gain support from the corners he want it from.

What we have to hope is that it isn't successful. I remember being certain that George W. Bush couldn't possibly win a second term.

Olaf said...

Steve,

Good post... that was a dummy move. The problem with Harper is not that he's a political opportunist (every politician has to be an opportunist, or they loose), but that he screws up every possibility to be an opportunist, by saying something dumb.

I mean, who says "don't fear me, the Liberal courts will keep me in check". He's clearly bright, and I support him more often than many do (like yourself), but I still have to shake my head and wonder sometimes.

So, I'm gonna do my best to defend his latest gem: Does the fact that he used the words "virtually all" when referring to the Liberal candidates calm your ire at all? No? ... ok, fair enough.

You win this round.

knb said...

I said: Of course few of us are proud, (though I understand the spirit of your comment).

Of course I meant to say we are NOT proud. That "fingers get ahead of your thoughts thing".

HearHere said...

I actually thought it was cheap political meddling by the reporter who thought to ask such a stupid off topic question about Iggy's war crimes comment during a news conference on law and order. As the story grows beyond the actual context of his statements and ignoring the fact that Harper was absolutely lambasted for months by the Liberals and NDP over his support of Israel last summer the media will give this non-story big fat legs...the Liberal media. So, oh what fun to meddle when you are just being an "objective" reporter huh.

Psychols said...

We don't have a Prime Minister in the traditional sense, we have a shady car salesman that preys on any perceived weakness, with no understanding of ethical conduct.

Nicely said. Unfortunately some shady car salesmen do very well for themselves. Lets hope that Harper's lack of real ethics and unwillingness to take anything but an absolute position are rightly seen as a weakness by Canadians instead of being seen as "resolve" which is the term that many Americans applied to Bush when he acted that way.

Steve V said...

"the media will give this non-story big fat legs...the Liberal media."

The socialist rag The National Post feeds the frenzy. Liberal media indeed!

As for off topic questions, such is the environment Harper has created by limiting media access.

Anonymous said...

Don't blame Harper. It was Iggy who opened the door to all these comments by trying to buy votes on both sides. One day he's on the English side of the road "not losing sleep" and the next day he's on the French side with "war crimes". He never was in the middle. I fail to see Iggy's "ethical conduct" as he tried to be the used car salesman selling different lines to different audiences.

Steve V said...

"Don't blame Harper. It was Iggy who opened the door to all these comments by trying to buy votes on both sides."

What Ignatieff did or didn't do is completely irrelevant to Harper's transparent motivations. Nice try though; well not really.

knb said...

Hmmm, the media and Ignatieff made Harper do it.

Of course the larger point is being missed, but, that's all they've got?

Cerberus said...

Wells nails it, as usual, by saying Harper is so bent on pulling a "John Baird" on the Liberals that he is losing site of the bigger prize. As Wells points out, how many swing voters did Harper convince today?

Steve V said...

I read what Wells said. Harper may be playing to base, problem is this isn't the States and it doesn't translate into the elusive majority.

The Rat said...

I guess TRUTH isn't a defence in Liberal-World anymore. Harper said most, and if you look at the stances taken by the four front-runners, he's right. Rae? Anti-Israel. Sorry to hear about his Jewish roots, but he didn't support Israel's right to self defence and he uses his position to score points with anti-ANY-war lefties. Dion? French-Canadian. Need we say anymore? Kennedy? Basically Rae's mini-me. And finally Iggy. He started out so well until he decided to pander to Quebec's self-serving pacifists. Too bad, he was almost a Liberal I could have supported. But Harper spoke truth, and it appears it hurts you Liberals. It's a lesson you guys should learn, sometimes you need to take a stand and stick to it.

Steve V said...

"But Harper spoke truth, and it appears it hurts you Liberals."

Harper spoke nonsense, and ultimately his narrow view will hurt his appeal. A strong stand is recognizing the mutual faults in a complicated situation. Israel good, everyone else bad is hardly leadership, and it denotes a simplistic approach that lacks any understanding of the dynamics at play. George Bush takes "strong" stands, and has systematically wasted the good will that was achieved from earlier administrations. This isn't a black and white proposition, a real position is able to see the nuances, a word Harper obviously doesn't comprehend.

Scotian said...

“Dion? French-Canadian. Need we say anymore?” The Rat 11:05 AM

Ah, so French Canadian/Quebecois equals anti-Israel. Got to love that unsupported smear job combined with more than a hint of anti-Quebecois bigotry in this one, no wonder you are supporting Harper, like calls to like as bigotry calls to bigotry. The Rat demonstrates yet again just how appropriate his alias is for him with this posting. It appears that to have had problems with the actions of Israel in the latest war with Lebanon is to be anti-Israeli, I guess all those Israelis that were also appalled by the actions of their government are also nothing but anti-Israel. That is the fundamental weakness/flaw in what Harper said and in what his online supporters like the Rat are saying in his defence.

To make the charge of “anti-Israel” stick one must actually show this is a continual position for those being accused of such, and funnily enough this is something we do not see CPCers providing when they use this smear. It is also becoming increasingly clear that the CPC sees those that do not agree with it as anti- this and that, from anti-American to anti-Israel, which for a party leader and current head of government of yet another nation seems more than a little questionable. After all, we have seen Harper put the American lumber sector’s interests ahead of our own with the softwood lumber sellout, we have seen him align our ME policy solidly with Israel, something other governments of both PCPC and Lib persuasion did not do preferring to walk the middle line of condemning human rights violations regardless of who was committing them, and to oppose him was to be some sort of racist/bigot more interested in being anti whatever is in question then actually looking at the underlying position being taken and for what reasons.

Harper is yet again demonstrating just how much he took the advice he got from Frank Luntz to heart, for this is a classic GOP smear tactic in action. Yet whenever one points this out suddenly one is Bush bashing/America bashing, the catchall defence from CPCers to try and deflect from this truth. Harper is a Straussian, as are most of his inner circle. He and the CPC and Reform/CA before it received aid from the American conservative machine for years prior to becoming government. Therefore it is not bashing America to point out how much Harper and the CPC are importing GOP smear and fear tools to use in this country. Indeed, it is important to do so since these tools were not evolved to work in our political system but America’s which is clearly bipolar whereas ours is mutipolar in nature. We also have a far lower tolerance for jingoism and absolutist rhetoric than Americans do, so when Harper imports American political tools that rely on these to work then it is not only appropriate but a civic duty to point these things out.

One of Harper’s worst problems is that he sees little to no real difference between American and Canadian cultures, and therefore sees what works there should work here. The problem with that is this country evolved in no small part to be different from America in nature, and so we are. We do not use melting pots, we are a community of communities. We have never seen ourselves as military adventurers, the Americans do. We do not have a strong tolerance and history for fundamentalist religion in the culture, the Americans do as well as a much higher percentage of fundammentalists voters to court than we do. We do not have a history of jingoism and rampant patriotism, the Americans do. I could go on and on showing such differences, but the point is made. What works there is no guarantee it will work here, indeed no guarantee it will not have the opposite effect, as the CPC found out in 2004 when it was a more nakedly open clone of the GOP in positions and tactics. This is why they had to become the moderate stealth CPC in the last election to even get as weak a minority as they did. The CPC is to be feared, not because they are conservatives but because they are American conservatives and not Canadian ones, and Harper yet again demonstrates this truth in action with this comment of his.

The Rat said...

Scotian, maybe you could gather your thoughts one of these days and post a few less than a thousand words.

Quebec - Against WWI being fought in France in defence of France, against WWII fought in France in Liberation of France, followed by that anus De Gaul's "vive le Quebec libre". Funny how Quebec wasn't interested in France's "Libre"? Oh, and maybe the Trudeau "wasser" story would fit in nicely with Quebec's pacifist/anti-semitic history?

Yup, let's be like the Liberals and pander to Quebec in French and straddle the fence in English.

There you go Scotian, short and to the point. I await your next dose of literary diarrhea.

Steve V said...

"There you go Scotian, short and to the point."

Or, maybe simplistic minds need few words to articulate remedial logic.

Scotian said...

The Rat:

Short yes, to the point, not so much (although you did underscore your French bigotry in that response), which is the problem with using such a simplistic approach when dealing with complex matters, especially ones that are inherently dynamic in nature. Nice try though (dry biting tone). Incidentally, mocking my wordiness does you no good, I mock my own long windedness on a semi regular basis, yet still I have yet to have any blogger whose blog I comment on tell me my writings are too wordy/lengthy and would I please cut back. The only ones that find it a problem are amazingly enough those that belong to the political part of the spectrum I am opposing.

Funny that...