Friday, 25 April 2008

And A Codicil...

Whilst re-reading that Globe and Mail piece about Ryan Sparrow, I was struck by something that I should have mentioned in my last post.

Since Stephen Harper's election two years ago, I've been telling anybody who will listen (a lucky handful!) that Harper is an amalgam of Richard Nixon and Mackenzie King--in his faux populism, in his achingly obvious inferiority complex, in his envious hatred of the "Eastern Establishment", in his raging paranoia, in his out-of-control need for total control, and in the rebarbative gaucherie of his public persona.

So I confess to having had Nixonian visions when the article described Sparrow this way:

The public face of the Conservative Party as it battles through an election spending controversy is a 26-year-old political science graduate from Edmonton: a young partisan described by one senior Tory as so loyal that he'd "literally ... take a bullet" for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Let's see. A young, fanatically driven ideological gladiator who is willing to do anything and suffer anything in the execution of his boss' agenda...

Where have we seen that guy before?

23 comments:

Aeneas the Younger said...

Harper as Nixon? Good one. Never thought of that before.

He wants to be Reagan though, but like anyone who cannot be genuine, will probably end-up emulating that which he does not intend.

Whatever happened to the days when Canadian MPs aspired to be Gladstone, Disraeli, or Churchill? I mean, we do have a Westminster system and all ...

Red Tory said...

ATY — Our old friend Scotian used to advance this corollary quite often. There are definitely some parallels.

SF — Yeah, Halderman for sure. Also, Ollie North — cut from the same cloth. Another example of misguided and misplaced loyalties.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Loyalty should be given to only one person: The Queen in Right of Canada. Only she - and what she represents - is worthy of such loyalty.

It is because of that particular deep loyalty that I left formal politics. Paradoxical? Perhaps ...

Sir Francis said...

Yeah, Halderman for sure. Also, Ollie North ...

I was going to pair him with G. Gordon Liddy but finally decided that he hadn't yet quite deserved that.

Sir Francis said...

It is because of that particular deep loyalty that I left formal politics. Paradoxical? Perhaps ...

I'm starting to think that the party system--at least as currently practiced--is totally inconsistent with the observance of national loyalty. I'll be posting on that in a little while.

Red Tory said...

ATY — To be more precise though, aren't you expressing "loyalty" to the institutional manifestation of something rather than to an actual person?

Red Tory said...

Watch out SF, you’re in danger of encroaching on some shared territory there with those blasphemous founders of the American enterprise… LOL.

Aeneas the Younger said...

RT:

BOTH, actually. I don't think they can be separated.

The Queen has actually got on much better with Labour PMs than most Tories, at least since 1964 ...

liberal supporter said...

And here we gaze into the crystal ball at the next election's leaders' debate:

Stephane: Mr. Harper, why did you pretend not to know about Cadscam, when it is clear you did?

Steve: I wouldn't lie to the Canadian people!

Stephane: Mr. Harper, do you intend to direct your party to obey election laws this time, unlike last time?

Steve: I am not a crook!


Stephane: But Mr. Harper, you allowed this to go on. Do you expect anyone to believe you were not in full control here?

Steve: I had no option.

Stephane: You had an option, sir. You could have said, 'I am not going to do it. This is wrong for Canada, and I am not going to ask Canadians to pay the price.' You had an option, sir--to say 'no'--and you chose to say 'yes' to the old attitudes and the old stories of the Reform Party. That sir, if I may say respectfully, that is not good enough for Canadians.

Steve: I had no option.

Stephane: This is an avowal of failure. You had an option, sir! You could have done better!

Sir Francis said...

Red:

Yeah, well even idiots can have the odd good idea... :)

Sir Francis said...

LS:

And we can fully expect this Harperite twist on an old Nixonian favourite: "When the Prime Minister does it, it's not illegal".

Red Tory said...

SF — I wasn't referring to the AEI, by the way, but maybe your scathing remark was directed to the Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, et. al. You might well profoundly disagree with them, but "idiots"...? I think not.

Sir Francis said...

You might well profoundly disagree with them, but "idiots"...? I think not.

Please forgive that smidgeon of hyperbole, Red.

It is my wont, though, to describe as "idiots" those whose profoundly misguided notions and schemes represent grave betrayals of their intellectual gifts. Theirs is an especially egregious idiocy, as it is entirely voluntary rather than the consequence of an organic and irremediable cognitive handicap.

To wit, it was the indisputably brilliant Benjamin Franklin who uttered the immortal puerility, "Time is money".

Um, no it isn't, Ben--unless you are a prostitute...or her john. Stop projecting.

Red Tory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Red Tory said...

Amusing as they are, I don’t really put too much stock in aphorisms. One should always be doubtful about the verity of things conjured with ease. There… case in point. I just made that up.

I’m not sure that I’d so casually dismiss the American republic as a “misguided scheme” however, although it’s certainly not doing a whole lot these days to affirm any faith I may once have had in many of its essential virtues.

Oh, and I prefer to reserve the term “idiots” for those more properly described as such in a technical sense. Bill Kristol leaps immediately to mind for some reason…

Sir Francis said...

One should always be doubtful about the verity of things conjured with ease.

Yes, but you would be surprised, I think, to learn how many apparently "easily conjured" aphorisms are in fact the products of painstaking deliberation. Churchill, for one, would carefully prepare a host of "off-the-cuff" one-liners for ostensibly extempore use in the House. Trudeau cribbed his soundbite about the inviolability of the nation's bedrooms from an editorial (in the Globe, I think, though I'm not sure).

In any case, Franklin's quip was intended as a fairly comprehensive summation of an entire (Calvinist) world-view. I think it does an excellent, albeit depressing, job of that.

I’m not sure that I’d so casually dismiss the American republic as a “misguided scheme”

Rest assured that if I could dismiss the Great Republic, I should do so formally, not casually.

But can it be dismissed at all? I only wish, Red...

No, that obstreperous agglomeration of philistine shopkeepers whose primary achievement has been to prove that--contrary to the precepts of Natural Law--it is possible to be the lone, undisputed, ICBM-ridden global superpower, swaggering across the globe with messianic pretensions that make Cecil Rhodes look like Mr. Rogers, and still suffer from a disabling Masada-like siege complex will not be "dismissed", casually or formally--not by us, anyways. Like all empires, they shall ultimately be dismissed by themselves, a process that has already begun.

The consequences, though inevitable (and in some ways desirable), will not be pretty, and I haven't yet decided whether I should like to live to see them.

Peter Burnet said...

Whatever happened to the days when Canadian MPs aspired to be Gladstone, Disraeli, or Churchill?

Whatever happened to the days when British MPs did? SF has promised us a provocative post on what Europe has left to inspire us philosophically today.

SF, but as with many similar anti-American screeds that date back all the way to the Revolution, you end up describing them as terminally decrepit and obscenely rich and powerful at the same time. I'm old enough to have lived through intellectual zeitgeists that forsaw the eclipse of the U.S. by the Soviet Union, Japan, the Asian tigers, the EU and now China. But they just keep on trucking. It's fairly easy to do a radical snapshot critique, but why are they so damn resilient?

It's worthwhile to keep one of Grant's more telling observations in mind: "The left is forever warning of the imminent advent of fascism in America, but when the real thing comes, it always seems to descend on Europe."

Aeneas the Younger said...

peter wrote:

"The left is forever warning of the imminent advent of fascism in America ..."

* Are you suggesting that this hasn't already occurred?

* Have you read Hedges' tome, "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America "?

Ti-Guy said...

I'm old enough to have lived through intellectual zeitgeists that forsaw the eclipse of the U.S. by the Soviet Union, Japan, the Asian tigers, the EU and now China.

I seem to remember (at least, from my vantage point here on the margin of the American Empire) that those elements were largely a product of American discourse itself; the natural tendency of America to always find an other to constitute a threat in order to conveniently avoid any honest introspection and self-examination and to motivate the masses into accepting yet another assault on the common good, usually described as freedom and individualism.

I lived in Germany during the Wirtschaftswunder and believe me, the Germans did not consider their tight regulation of market competition a stepping stone to overtaking anyone. It was simply an approach to managing the economy based on the consensus achieved through a very high degree of participatory democracy, an understanding that the economy should first and foremost benefit the People and the (to some people, quaint) idea that the common good is a real thing and worth protecting (and not Communism, which they understood far better than the Americans ever did).

Like all empires, they shall ultimately be dismissed by themselves, a process that has already begun.

I stopped paying attention to the US during the Reagan era (precisely at Iran/Contra). I was concerned that my anti-American thoughts (and maybe a few eye rolls here and there) would soon start demoralising the Americans and send them into a shame spiral that would be debilitating and unproductive. I was in fact worried that it might drive the population to substance abuse. I couldn't have that on my conscience, heavens no.

If the negative vibes and morally-superior criticism on the part of foreigners (which I'm sure Americans, by avoiding all foreign media, are well aware of) has lead to the worsening of America's status on the world stage and the decay of its domestic culture and economy, I cannot be held responsible. Sure, I could have been cheerier and bubblier and more encouraging, but for some reason, I had some other country to worry about.

Sir Francis said...

But they just keep on trucking. It's fairly easy to do a radical snapshot critique, but why are they so damn resilient?

Bah. The U.S.'s uncontested world dominance is only about sixty-five years old. Compared to the dominance of Britain, Rome, the Ottonian/Hohenstauffen Holy Roman Empire, and even such imperial also-rans as France, Spain and Portugal, that span is nothing--the batting of an eyelash. Even Alexander's Macedonian Empire lasted longer (posthumously, granted).

Patience, my wide-eyed Yankee-booster. Patience. As Gibbon makes clear, the "fall" of the Roman Empire was a two-hundred-year agony, and even the patricians whose stomachs were turned by the degeneracy of the Heliogabalan era could not have foreseen the ignominy in which Romulus Augustulus was finally deposed by a rabble of Goths. My Catholic instincts lead me to view history sub specie eternitatis rather than in tiny, pop-culture-driven "snapshots".

The left is forever warning of the imminent advent of fascism in America, but when the real thing comes, it always seems to descend on Europe."

That is "telling"? It has always struck me as uncharacteristically glib.

While Grant's dictum may be somewhat applicable to the pre-WWII context (although Lincoln kept the Federal U.S. under martial law for years at a time when the major nations of Europe were democratic), it certainly does not apply from 1945 onwards. The Nixon administration was arguably the closest a Western nation has come to fascism since the end of the war.

Anyways, what is your beef with Europe exactly--that it is prone to fascism or that it is a Left-lib hive of mushy multicultural relativism? You may want to give your Europhobia just a little more focus.

SF has promised us a provocative post on what Europe has left to inspire us philosophically today.

Not a "promise", actually, more of a statement of intent, but that post is on the way. I've a backlog of topics to dispose of, and I'm slowly making my way through it.

I'm being delayed slightly by trivia such as work, family, eating, sleeping, etc, but you may expect it within the week (and that, Peter, is a promise!).

Peter Burnet said...

I'm being delayed slightly by trivia such as work, family, eating, sleeping, etc,

Perfectly good, even admirable, reasons for delay. Especially sleeping. Anxious as I am, I can wait patiently, but I'll hold on to my Europhobia and keep it as a response to your eagerly awaited Europhilia. Mom always told me to wait for the blogmeister's lead.

aenas:

I suppose so if you define fascism as simply something you really, really, really, really don't like. Those of us with more rigorous definitions tend to think that any country that permits the publication of books accusung it of being fascist (or any other damn thing you want) isn't. But I'll read the book over the next few months if you'll agree to read one I suggest. Deal?

Aeneas the Younger said...

peter:

I have no problem with that, but be warned:

I may have read it already.

Aeneas the Younger said...

BTW .... I ma referring to the "Dominionist" movement in the USA. Not there yet, but heading that way ....