Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The pyrrhic victory of it all

From a year ender a few days ago, Stephen Maher captures the dilemma Mr. Harper's brand of politics leaves him in, a dynamic that will continue on into 2010:
He shows strength by refusing to respond to opposition and media concerns if they do not suit his agenda, and the many Canadians who have put their faith in him are not bothered by the cries of opposition MPs and commentators.

On the other hand, Mr. Harper shows rigidity, secretiveness, a zeal for control and a willingness to treat people roughly.

His government publicly slagged the diplomat in question and got rid of the head of the Military Police Complaints Commission, the arm’s-length body investigating his government — one of a number of watchdogs Mr. Harper has ditched.

Mr. Harper remains in control in Ottawa, a firm hand on the tiller, with the approval of many Canadians, in better shape at the end of the year than at the beginning, his back off the wall.

All the same, his hard edges make it difficult for him to broaden his base.
Just when he advances, post-piano playing, he crashes back down to standard minority territory on real, difficult issues such as Afghanistan, the environment. And despite 2010's promise of Olympic glory and reflected glow for Stephen Harper, there will be job promises to live up to ("...265,000 jobs by the end of 2010"), deficits to grapple with as stimulus spending ends and real economists press them for real plans. There also remains the other real, difficult issues that aren't going away in 2010, Afghanistan, the environment. When reality interferes with the best laid plans of this government's massive p.r. operation, that's when Mr. Harper et al. have problems. We need to keep pressing reality upon them.

And the other part of the equation needs to be solved, of course, that goes without saying.