Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Harper on Harper

Last week, an editorial appeared in the right-wing Washington Times about how having Stephen Harper as Prime Minister would be a late Christmas present for Bush. It described him as "pro-free trade, pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto, and socially conservative." Well, that characterization didn't sit well with Harper--at least not in the middle of an election--and he responded to the editorial himself (scroll down a bit). In his letter, he clarifies his positions on softwood lumber, the Iraq war, the Kyoto accord, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage.

At times like this, I'm always torn between two different mes: the dyed-in-the-wool-lefty-IP, and the immigrant-from-the-U.S.-IP. The former wants to stand up and say: "Yeah? Well, he's still wrong, and here's why!" The latter, on the other hand, is content to say: "Oh, my god, I get to live in a country where one of the most conservative politicians expresses great disappointment about the failure to substantiate the weapons-of-mass-destruction intelligence! And who openly says to right-wing Americans that he won't restrict abortion, and will hold the U.S. to their trade agreements! Oh, frabjous day!"

Both versions of me can't help but notice, though, that he doesn't utter a peep about the original editorial's charge that "If Martin's Liberal Party is re-elected for the fourth consecutive time, Canadian taxpayers will continue footing the bill for an expensive welfare state epitomized by its archaic government-run health-care system." Interesting.


KevinG said...

We love you both :)

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Aw! Smooches for Kevin.

Koby said...

I find it funny that Harper feels the need to respond Washingon Times article even as he and his people role out one Republican talking point after another.

Take the Surplus. One of the main Republican talking points in 2000 and 2001 was that a government surplus is proof of over-taxation. The Conservatives are using this same approach. A 2005 December 8 edition of the North Shore Outlook and a 2001 report from Minnesota public radio are a good case in point. When asked her opinion on the 8 year run of surpluses North Vancouver Conservative candidate Cindy Silver said this: "Continuous federal surpluses are a sign, not of economic health, but of over-taxation." In 2001 Minnesota Republican Phil Krinkie said something similar "we want to eliminate budget surpluses -- overtaxation, plain and simple -- that's existed in this state for eight years".
Krinkie, by the way, got his wish. Minnesota has run a deficit ever since. The same could be said of the Bush administration. They succeeded in getting rid of 235 Billion surpluse and replacing it with a series of record deficits

AJSomerset said...

Okay, so you follow a post entitled "Back to homosexual sex marriage" with one entitled, "Harper on Harper."

Subliminal message?

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Come on, it's an election! The Republican talking points that will win him votes are a-o-kay, while the ones that will get him into trouble are the ones he has to counter.

Seriously, though--you don't *really* think Harper is in the same league as Bush and company, do you?


*splutter* Okay, that was a mental image I didn't need ...

Anonymous said...

I do not think Harper and Bush are of a piece. Harper is much more like Rove. Anyway, are the Conservatives are not as bad as the Republicans, but they have dreams of being as bad.

"The Republican talking points that will win him votes are a-o-kay, while the ones that will get him into trouble are the ones he has to counter." I disagree. It is hard to predict what ones will succeed and what will not. This one may have potential as it bares some resemblance to the old PC attack on Trudeau.

On December 12 Harper refered to Layton as an “elitist” and as an ‘out of touch Torontonian.” (Sorry no link) Now leaving aside the fact that Harper was himself born in Toronto and that “Calgary school” is not exactly a shinning example of egalitarian thought, this is really a paint by numbers redo of a Republican talking point that has worked wonders. (Needless to say, given "Dubya's" background, Bush is not exactly joe sixpack material either.) Indeed, the stuff just writes itself. All you have to do is sub in Layton for Kerry and Torontonian for Massachusetts Senator and bob’s your uncle. You have the makings of a plan to appeal to the working class while all the way committing yourself to policies that hurt them. Thomas Frank, who wrote a book on the subject called what is the matter with Kansas, explains how this was oringinally a Democrat tactic that the Republicans took over. (Is Sask another version of Kansas. Not a single NDP MP was elected and 13 Conservatives were.)

"Oddly enough, this same Zell Miller had once been known as a fairly formidable class warrior on the left, blasting Bush's father in a famous 1992 speech as a clueless "aristocrat" who knew nothing of hard work and then dropping this memorable zinger on Dan Quayle: "Not all of us can be born rich, handsome, and lucky, and that's why we have a Democratic Party."

But in the election of 2004 all the class anger was on the other side. Now it was the Democrat whose aristocratic lifestyle was always coming into question, who couldn't seem to take a step without detonating some explosive reminder of his exalted position. And it was Republican operatives who were gleefully dropping the word "elitist" on the liberal at every turn for his affected, upper-class ways. For his supposed love of brie cheese. For his wealthy wife's supposed unfamiliarity with chili. For his mansion. His yacht. His windsurfing. His vacations with celebs on Nantucket Island. The secretary of commerce said he thought Kerry "looks French." The House majority leader made a habit of starting off speeches with the line, "Good afternoon, or, as John Kerry might say: 'Bonjour!'" The NRA came up with an image that brilliantly encapsulated the whole thing: an elaborately clipped French poodle in a pink bow and a Kerry-for-president sweater over the slogan "That dog don't hunt."[10]

And now it was the drawling son of 1992's aristocrat who was drawing the adoring throngs in the shuttered mill towns and coal-mining regions. It was the committed enemy of organized labor whose prayerful public performances persuaded so many that he "shares our values." It was the man who had slashed taxes on inherited fortunes and dividends who was said to be, in the election's most telling refrain, "one of us."

George W. Bush was authentic; John Forbes Kerry, like all liberals, was an affected toff, a Boston Brahmin who knew nothing of the struggles of average folks. Again and again, in the course of the electoral battle, I heard striking tales of this tragically inverted form of class consciousness: of a cleaning lady who voted for Bush because she could never support a rich man for president. Of the numerous people who lost their cable TV because of nonpayment but who nevertheless sported Bush stickers on their cars." Of course, the NDP are not the only subject of such talking points. Michael Ignatieff has been attacked in such a way that someone working in, say, an automobile factory might feel guilty for ever having read book that did not contain pictures of naked women, cars or sports stars. Such musings have been picked up by the Sun Media chain. Conservative hack Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun: "Ignatieff writes critically acclaimed books THAT ONLY THE ELITE READ".

One thing that is missing this time around is Conservative talk of Martin having raised taxes 63 times. The Liberal promise of a large tax cut shelved those plans. By the way, for those trying to remember how many times Kerry voted for higher taxes, the number you are searching for is 350.

As Harper likes to end his speeches, “thank you. God Bless Canada.”