I don't question character, but I strongly question judgement. John Manley may think that he is participating in a honorable way, that the issue is beyond partisan considerations. However, the irony, his presence is entirely a partisan affair, Harper uses him as front, a calculation that ensures credibility. Why someone as seasoned as Manley can't see Harper's motivations is a complete lapse in judgement. A "good Liberal" doesn't defend Manley, simply because of his party pedigree, you call a spade a spade.
Whether public, or private, the judgement is the same:
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion publicly welcomed Manley's attempt to contribute to the divisive Afghanistan debate, but was privately fuming over what many Liberals saw as a betrayal that would help Harper build a case for prolonging the Afghan military mission contrary to the wishes of all three opposition parties.
Dion should be fuming, because Afghanistan is one of the few issues that the Liberals are well positioned. Now, we must all enjoy the spectacle of Harper name dropping, everytime the issue comes to fore. Travers sums it up:
Point, set, and maybe even match to Stephen Harper. With the single stroke of recruiting Liberal John Manley to help rescue Conservatives from Afghanistan, the Prime Minister is protecting his party from voter backlash in a looming fall election and putting knee-buckling pressure on Stéphane Dion.
This is how politics is played when it's played shrewdly. Days before Tuesday's throne speech, Harper is neutralizing the combat mission as a ballot issue while steering the country toward the consensus Conservatives favour on a continuing Afghanistan role.
So Harper is doing what successful politicians always do: He's buying time while prepping the country for a foregone conclusion. By the time Manley reports in January the election may be over and, even if not, his findings will only make it easier for the Prime Minister to argue for a continuing, if modified, Afghanistan presence.
Canada needs a honest, public debate on our future in Afghanistan. John Manley seems to be under the illusion that he is at the center of the debate, when in fact he is being used, to ensure that debate is neutralized, to give credence to the Conservatives position. The argument that we all need to cool our jets and see what Manley comes up with is interesting, if irrelevant, because I can sit here right now and I already know the outcome. Is there any doubt? Why is that every Blogging Tory and Conservative partisan is "applauding" John Manley?