Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Harper needs to channel Jimmy Swaggart

So Stephen Harper will address the national tonight to try to save his government, and the opposition super friends have asked for equal time to respond. High drama indeed. Alas, I’ll be at a sneak-peak of Valkyrie so I shall miss it all.

Were I watching though, if Harper wants to save his job (both as PM and CPC leader) he’s going to need to channel Jimmy Swaggart. OK, maybe crying on camera and admitting “I have sinned!” would be a bit much. But if Harper wants to have any hope of extricating himself from this mess of his own making (and even if the GG grants a prorogual it likely just delays the inevitable) he’s going to need to eat a big piece of humble pie.

When he talks to Canada he can’t be Angry Steve. Canadians don’t like Angry Steve. He needs to admit that he made some serious mistakes, that he tried to play political games during an economic crisis, that he didn’t rise to the level of statesmanship Canadians expect, that he erred on the strike ban, on pay equity, on delaying stimulus. And he needs to take responsibility for not heeding the message of Canadians that he got a minority and is expected to work collaboratively with the other parties. He needs to be genuinely contrite and apologetic.

If he does all this, I think he can win the public relations battle and much of the public, who don’t really understand the intricacies of parliamentary democracy as well as we political junkies. Will it be enough to stop the coalition? Probably not, but it would hamper its ability to succeed. And if the GG does progue, if negative public opinion goes negative over the interim and Harper has fallen on his sword and promised real cooperation it would be difficult for the coalition to proceed.

Now, do I think Harper will don the sweater vest and do a Swaggart? Anything is possible. But it would be a sharp 180 from the Conservatives’ current scorched earth, blitzkrieg, this is treason strategy, which will only serve to fuel a pox on all their houses feeling and won’t help their fortunes at all.

Harper, though, will also be fighting to hold onto the Conservative leadership tonight too. He’s probably gone as PM, and it’s his own fault. Many Conservatives are reaching the conclusion Harper has taken them as far as they can go, and, not only has his hyper-partisanship become a liability, it has cost them government a month after they won an increased minority.

If he’s to hold on to the leadership and survive, well, a coup, Conservatives are going to want to see some remorse from Harper, and some inkling that he has learned from this debacle, grow, and not make the same mistakes again. Harper has shown an impressive ability to learn harsh lessons in the past, but tonight will be a real challenge.

We'll see very quickly whether he's genuinely serious about staying in government, or if, knowing he can't lead it, he just intends to burn the house down on his way out.

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3 comments:

Mike said...

Rather than Swaggert, I think he'll channel Paul Martin.

Gosh, won't that be a delicious irony.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Stevey is more far gone than Pauly. Besides, Jimmy came back from his mea culpa...

prairiewrangler said...

Jeff,

Nice idea, but I've never been so sure of anything in my life as I am of the fact that absolutely no mea culpa will not be taking place tonight. We'll be lucky if Harper's able to get through the thing without tossing a chair or knocking over the camera man.