Sunday, September 20, 2009

Former PM Mulroney's Thursday speech, praise for Obama (video)

If you didn't see the video of Mulroney speaking at the 25 year anniversary event for his 1984 election, here is a five plus minute clip that's got some of the most interesting parts. At the beginning, Mulroney's comments on political leadership and doing things that are hard, not necessarily politically popular. Which leads into the second part starting around the 2:50 mark where he begins to praise Obama for pursuing public health care in the U.S. in the face of rabid opposition:
"50 years from today, Americans will revere the name Obama. Because like his Canadian predecessors, he chose the tough responsibilities of national political leadership over the meaningless nostrums of sterile partisanship that we see too much of in Canada and around the world today."
It's already been well-remarked upon this week as to what Mulroney's comments signified, namely, a showing up of the current Conservative Prime Minister who has, by contrast, studiously and purposely avoided speaking up on behalf of the Canadian health care system when he's had plenty of opportunity to do so. Harper's refrain is that it is a U.S. domestic debate and in any event, health care is a provincial responsibility. Which is nonsense talking point shoulder shrugging and deflection in the current context where Americans have launched into an open season assault on Canadian health care. What else is a Prime Minister for if not to defend our values at such a moment?

The fact that Mr. Harper has been MIA on the issue has evidently not been lost on Mulroney. That Mulroney spoke so clearly about health care being one of our prime Canadian values was a jarring contrast with Harper. Harper would choke on such words and could never summon up the enthusiasm that Mulroney did on the subject. And of course, Mulroney's bold praise and support for Obama in his health care fight, when Harper has missed his opportunity, was very striking too. Delivered while Harper was in the U.S., having just finished a meeting with Obama, message delivered.

"The meaningless nostrums of sterile partisanship...," you have to give it to him here, that's a perfect phrase to capture the challenges reasonable people face in overcoming the partisan noise in Canada and the U.S. at the moment. Obama overcame it during his campaign but is struggling with it now. And we have our own nonsense to deal with. Anyway, useful to hear such an appeal, no matter how you may feel about the source.