Saturday, December 06, 2008

In which Harpie's friends speak to the media about what he's really like

Robert Benzie's piece in the Star today is an eye-opener for Conservatives and an interesting read for anyone seeking to understand why the nation has been brought to such a place as it has been this week. It's all about Harpie. While I agree there's not much "news" here in terms of how the PM governs, the report is a worthwhile reminder that the governing style itself is unsettling and has wrought this week's crises. There is another intriguing angle, below.

On why there was no swaying Harper from his disastrous ideological economic update:
In interviews with federal associates of Harper, past and present, a picture emerges of a bright and driven man who does not take dissenting counsel especially well and is prone to profane outbursts.

"The people around him, the stable, has generally been bred for obedience, so that's what you get," says a confrere.

Another insider agrees "there's no question the Prime Minister rules by fear," which is not always productive.

"At some point, you know, you get up every day and you get kicked in the balls and, you know what, you get tired of it. So when people stop fighting back, I'm telling you, that's a most dangerous, dangerous, dangerous day," he says.

It was Harper who insisted that the Nov. 27 economic statement be used as a political weapon to bludgeon the Conservatives' foes. (emphasis added)
Creating an atmosphere where he's unopposed by his staff and colleagues, it's no wonder he's unable to work with the opposition. It doesn't seem to be in the DNA.

Also of note here, the comments from those who know Harper, confirming sentiments that aren't conducive to parliamentary democracy:
"He truly is ... politically brilliant, but he's also pathologically partisan. So he just can't help himself. It's a deadly combination. You know that you're a smart guy and you're pretty sure you can outsmart everybody and you never miss an opportunity to poke an opponent in the eye," says an insider.

An acquaintance agrees Harper's partisan blinders are self-destructive. "He cannot abide by the Liberals. He finds them indecisive, he finds them pandering, he wants to destroy them. He can't help himself – he just can't help himself."
We need parties to oppose, no? Competition is one thing. Destruction is another. How is this supposed to suddenly change, one wonders.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the report to me, the "vast network of friends" of Brian Mulroney that is referenced along with the news that Mulroney has decided to put out the word that he is disappointed by Harper. That is a telling signal, seems to me. I don't think that kind of information makes its way into the Toronto Star by accident. A possible opening for a Harper successor to exploit in this window of opportunity that's been created by Harper.