"There's a risk for Harper, but not the obvious one. Changing his position ...appeal to those that most oppose him... The real risk for him however, what he has been able to establish over the last year and a bit, is even those that don't like him, and those that don't agree with him, which is the wide majority, they don't dispute the fact that he has the attributes to be Prime Minister. Harper is confident, he is decisive and he has a vison. If he looks like he is "cutting and running", he runs the risk of damaging those attributes, that are really the cornerstone of any strength he has."
A great perspective- even though Harper often has trouble on the issues with Canadians, he generally fairs well on questions of leadership and decisiveness. These "attributes" are even more important within the current political landscape, where his main rival looks decidedly weak on the same points. Harper enjoys a substantial leadership gap, which makes commentary like this very concerning:
David Bercsuon (U of C professor):
"I think Allan is right and he runs the risk of looking like a "waffler" on an issue that is so important. You might be doing considerable damage to the mission itself."
Don Martin reported from Kandahar that the soldiers had expressed some disappointment and confusion over Harper's mixed messages. That fact is a clear warning sign for the Prime Minister. If, Harper comes off looking like a "waffler", in his attempt to "neutralize", then he has lost his remaining advantage. Any contrast between Harper the leader, and Dion as lacking leadership will be lost, which then brings the conversation more squarely onto a simple discussion of issues. On that score, Harper is challenged, whereas the Liberals find a more natural argument.
In trying to distance himself from the mission, Harper could effectively undercut his advantage. In attempting to expand support, move with public opinion, Harper could hurt himself, because he looks weak and unsure. It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out, but it could very well be that the Conservatives have out-strategized themselves, reaching, which causes a fall from the leadership pedestal.