Sunday, July 19, 2009

The reviews are in

Gerald Caplan picks up on what looks to be an important connection between Stephen Harper and the U.S. Republicans' resentment-based philosophy and detachment from reality - and as a matter of personal judgment rather than merely political calculation:
Richard Nixon was perhaps the politician whose personal devils ate away at him most conspicuously, but like Harris he finally figured out how to win with them. In his day the enemy was New York liberals, opponents of the American invasion of Vietnam, blacks, university students, the pinko mainstream media and other enemies of the Silent Majority, now Palin's Real Americans.

It seems evident that some comparable resentment drives Stephen Harper, but in a very mysterious way...

Harper's attack on Ignatieff was another indication of the extremism of his partisanship. As we soon learned, it was based on an accurate report that Gordon Smith, a former deputy minister in Foreign Affairs, had speculated that the G8 could be replaced by a new body that didn't include Canada. That's an interesting issue and a potential problem for Canada. But that's not what Harper accused Ignatieff of saying. He accused him of wishing Canada was excluded from such a new body, of even recommending that it should be so excluded, which is an entirely different and dirty kettle of fish.

Now it seems to me that only partisanship of the most visceral kind could have interpreted the Gordon Smith comment (as attributed to Ignatieff) that way. Surely all normal folks would read the statement and understand that Smith was simply noting the need for Canadians to be aware that new players were becoming significant on the international scene. And it would be perfectly legitimate for Ignatieff to make a similar point.

No one who wasn't blinded by his own furies could believe a Canadian politician would ever say what Harper accused Ignatieff of saying. It would be simply suicidal. Yet Harper then used this ludicrous misinterpretation to introduce his favourite bogeyman – whether Ignatieff was a real Canadian anyway (shades of Sarah Palin). If I were a Conservative, I would seriously worry about the judgment of someone who could twist things in that way.

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