Thursday, December 09, 2010

Everybody needs to pause, take a deep breath, and relax

Sometimes the partisanship really does get ridiculous. I’d say it’s a product of perpetual minorities, but I’m reasonably certain that the partisanship has always been pretty ridiculous and any memories of a golden era of peace and love are illusory.

Some of the worst partisanship revolves around the most trivial of events, like music. And everyone, from partisans of all stripes to the press gallery, is guilty of overdoing it. I bring this up, of course, because of Stephen Harper’s “rock concert” last night at the Conservative Christmas party on Ottawa. It was somewhat bemusing to watch it unfold on Twitter last night, and then read the flurry of coverage this morning.

It’s all rather over the top. Conservatives say it’s a master-stroke that shows Harper’s regular guy awesomeness. Some of my Liberal friends are all in a lather, calling it a cynically-staged photo-op by a guy who can’t sing. And the media are all in a tizzy giving it wide coverage and, of course, asking how this all impacts the horse race and election timing. (Because everything is about election timing to our media friends.)

The worst is this so-called “senior Ignatieff official” who, if they do really exist and hold a senior position, should be moved to a job that involves neither talking to the media or communications strategy of any kind, because these have got to be some of the stupidest comments I’ve read in years:
“Not even one song in French,” a senior Ignatieff official told The Globe and Mail on Thursday morning. “One week after Quebec’s artistic elite (over 100 songwriters and singers) came to Parliament Hill on C-32. It shows that he is clueless about Quebec culture.”
Dude. Senior whoever the hell you are. Seriously, you need to get a life. Do yourself a favour and get out of Ottawa, because you seem completely clueless about what people really give a shit about.

And as passionately as the partisans of varying stripes hold their positions on Harper’s rock show, they all probably had the exactly opposite reaction when Bob Rae, for example, did his piano man thing earlier this year. Liberals lapped it up, great show and all that. I posted the video, and I still get comments months later on it from Conservatives saying he’s a crappy performer who should stick to his day job. Their hostility was fierce.

Or when Michael Ignatieff danced for Much Music – un-priministerial and not a leader, the Conservatives huffed.

The problem with blind partisanship is that it blinds everyone’s judgment, and leads to a tendency to blow things out of proportion on both sides. My side’s goals are just, so anything we do in their pursuit is peachy, and the other guys are evil, so anything they do is wrong. And as David Akin pointed-out, it forces politicians to act like robotic automatons to avoid the inevitable attacks.

It's a war room mentality, and it's the same no matter who is running it. Everything is an opportunity to attack, to oppose, to advance the agenda. I know applying the "if you don't have anything nice to say" rule to politics would be ridiculous, but knowing when to hold your powder is important.

People need to just breathe. So Harper played some songs at a Conservative Christmas party, and the room of party loyalists loved it. Good for him. It has no deeper meaning. Was it a coincidence the media were there? Probably not. (I'd have not invited the media, but make sure someone got it with a Flip camera and let social media take it viral, myself.) Were they hoping for positive coverage? Probably. But who cares. Everyone is hoping for positive coverage.

They had a fun night, and that’s all it is.

The Conservatives shouldn’t pretend its step one to a majority.

The Liberals should focus more on having more fun nights of their own.

And the media should leave trivialities to lighter-side briefs or too much information segments and spend more of their time reporting on issues more substantive than Christmas parties or Caribana dances.

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Steve V said...

I really reject the "partisanship" angle here. Are you saying this wasn't scripted to make Harper look good? That's my criticism, and I think it bears mentioning, rather than simply lapping it up. I thought the first piano man video was fun, so this isn't some kneejerk partisanship. It's as though I can't point to the blue sky because I'm a Liberal? I know anyone complaining just looks petty, but I see an air of manipulation here. Again, are we wrong?

What this is, a PMO hatched effort to make Harper look human. Noting that, pointing to something being contrived (unlike dancing Iggy) isn't partisan, it is a simple recognition of reality.

Plus, it sucked so bad, his voice should be illegal :)

I agree with the "no French" nonsense, you just have to let it be.

Jeff said...

Of course it was scripted to make him look good. You're right, that is a sky is blue comment. They don't script events to make him look bad. And neither do we. Or at least we shouldn't be. I should really check on that.

But unless one is going to call out every politician for trying to present a positive image to the public though, then calling out one particular party seems silly.

At the very least, I don't see the point in getting into a lather about it. Who really cares?

Conservatives are silly if they're pretending this was anything but a calculated exercise in image management. Liberals are silly if they act like their virgin sensibilities have been offended. And the media are silly for really spending any time on this at all.

Steve V said...

Who's in a lather? I'm not up in arms about it, just making the point.

Let's remember this posture then, the next time Harper scripts something, because I guess any criticism isn't warranted by this logic.

Again my friend, not a big deal, but certainly not something to mock others for noting either IMHO.

I agree with the OLO, that was lame, officially we just let it play out. However, there is nothing silly about people noting how Harper stages and the media runs to upload. It's a commentary on how passive the conduit, and I believe that important.

Steve V said...

All that said, you do have a point on one level :)

Jeff said...

Steve, I did read your post but if I'd wanted to specifically single you our for criticism, I'd have linked you. I've read a number of blogs and oodles of tweets though from liberals in a lather.

It was a Christmas Party. I just think there's more important things to worry about.

900ft Jesus said...

I agree with Steve V on this one. The media is being ridiculous, but as for most of us bloggers left of harper, it's not blind partisanship that's causing us to react. It's sheer nausea at yet another sickening display of steve's monumental ego and the butt-licking fawning of his members and followers.

If he had been more casual about it, opened the floor for others to join in, fine. But no, everyone is expected to sit pretty and applaud loudly with oooh"s and aaah"s of wonder.

He's mediocre, but presents himself like he's a wunderkid.

We're just all so sick of the displays of a sociopath, Jeff, and the fawning acolytes who support him. They're not just blindly partisan. They're tone deaf as well.

Steve V said...

I understand your point. I guess what I'm saying, it was a Christmas Party, and yet the wheels were still turning. Does that make sense?

Anyways... now I do need to relax ;)

Gayle said...

"It's sheer nausea at yet another sickening display of steve's monumental ego and the butt-licking fawning of his members and followers."

Well I also happen to think it takes a big ego to think people really want to hear your amateur musicianship. That said, I also think this schtick of his will wear thin - fast. People are generally pretty good at knowing when they are being manipulated.

So let him play.