Saturday, May 3, 2008

Harper the Common Man: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Steve over at Far and Wide had a post up today about how Harper lacks the common touch. How very true, but I couldn’t help being reminded that there are much worse examples than the recent one that Steve cites (see below at the end of this article from the archives). It’s a long running pattern for Harper, but Steve’s post reminded me of an article I read a few years back about this very problem Harper has – he’s not just out of touch but an extremely angry man whose modus operandi is tearing people down, so of course he just feels so out of place when he’s supposed to be nice and friendly. Anyways I thought I would dig up this old article for you all to read (the link is dead unfortunately) – I will leave it up to all of you to decide what has changed.

I can't help but notice the Richard Nixon reference even then (that many bloggers have made since) - well we all know what happened to him in the end. Anyways enjoy....

The Toronto Star, Canada Jun. 5, 2005. 08:28

After 23 years in politics, Stephen Harper still has a penchant for marginalizing moderates within his Conservative caucus, ridiculing the patriotism of Liberal voters and working out his anger issues in public

David Olive

Look at that face, that hateful face.
-Sam Rayburn, Democratic speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, watching a televised address by Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon somehow made it to the top of the greasy pole. It's helpful to take that view of history in trying to imagine Stephen Harper as the man who can lead a united right to the New Jerusalem.

As dysfunctional in his own way as the dethroned Stockwell Day, Harper has twice squandered the chance effortlessly gained by the sponsorship scandal to form a government. He is, Tory insiders began saying last week, girding for a third try this fall, hoping the potency of the Grewal tapes matches that of the Gomery revelations.

It, too, will likely fail.

In a nation that favours public figures who project a sunny optimism, Harper traffics more heavily in bile than any major political party leader since John Diefenbaker.

Harper regards Liberals of every description as "corrupt," and their precarious government, in all its grand and sundry aspects, "morally reprehensible." Those who fail to align with Harper's worldview he labels monsters, harlots and underworld figures.

How much more dignified it would be for a leader of the Official Opposition to let lessers handle the scut work of character assassination — and there's no shortage of volunteers. Let Tory MP Jason Kenney accuse Martin of perjuring himself at the Gomery inquiry, for instance, and NDP backbencher Pat Martin describe the Liberals, in Commons debate last month, as "institutionally psychopathic."

But Harper insists on working out his anger issues in public, whether it's kicking chairs backstage at Tory events or shoving photographers out of camera range. Or labelling NDP Leader Jack Layton a slut for backing a slightly amended budget that increases spending by less than 1 per cent.

As they say, the fish rots from the head. Within a few days, John Reynolds, Tory campaign manager and prominent B.C. MP, was saying all Liberals "are whores. I don't like to call them that, because there are probably some whores who are nice people."

In the last election Harper let stand a Tory press release that called Paul Martin a supporter of child pornography.

No surprise, then, that Harper has not rebuked Saskatoon Tory MP Maurice Vellacott's description of turncoat Belinda Stronach. ("Some people prostitute themselves for different costs or different prices. She sold out for a cabinet position.")

Harper is not in tune with his caucus, having marginalized moderates like Stronach and Peter MacKay, who went public with his own misgivings about an early election the same day, May 4, as his then-girlfriend did. Not one but three erstwhile contenders for the Alliance or Conservative leadership — Keith Martin, Scott Brison and Stronach — have been driven into the Grit fold.

"Join your own team, Stephen!" exhorts full-time Tory apologist Don Martin.
But after 23 years in politics, Harper is not a work in progress.

Harper still is in thrall to the armchair ideologues at the University of Calgary with whom he first fell in as a student there, a group currently headed by Tory chief strategist Tom Flanagan.

Accordingly, the latest polls find Tory support at 27 per cent nationally, below the party's 29.6 per cent showing in the last election — itself the Tories' worst performance since R.B. Bennett's drubbing in the Depression year of 1935.

Alarmed by the positive poll readings Martin garnered recently from his encounters with pre-voting-age Canadians who appear to enjoy the Prime Minister's company, Harper's handlers arranged a photo-op of their own at a Wallaceburg, Ont., rehab centre for children.

But the Tory leader was miscast for the assignment. He watched silently, not knowing what to say to these kids. Until, that is, one of the finger-painting toddlers leaned toward his tailored suit.

"Don't touch me," Harper said.

Okay. So what are you doing here?

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Steve V said...

Thanks for the trip, especially the "don't touch me" part. What a guy!

Len said...

I get the feeling that Harper had potty training issues as a toddler.