Monday, 21 April 2008

The Eighteenth Brumaire of Stephen Harper

As he surveyed the risible pantomime of mid-19th-century French neo-Bonapartism, Karl Marx remarked that what first occurs as tragedy always re-occurs as farce. He forgot to add that the two can occur together, as Stephen Harper learned yesterday.

We cannot know how long it will take for the media to pick clean the bones of yet another dead and rotten myth of political unimpeachability, slain by Harper's own Elmer-Gantrian hubris. This we do know: while the media sifts through the debris field of yet another sordid scandal, everything that makes politics worthwhile, everything by which it should be motivated--ideas, visions, debate, passion--shall be banished from the national conversation, at a time when we have arguably never needed them more desperately.

Rather, a cheap Three Stooges routine unfolds, as a panicked government literally runs from hotel to hotel in a furious bid to avoid the Canadian Press and the CBC after having invited the media to a press conference.

This pitiable political equivalent of an under-written Hee-Haw skit might be a defining moment in the life of "Canada's New Government"--the moment when they became the Village People of Canadian politics, a pretend government, a put-on, a silly, camp confection whose large and fanatical fanbase merely acts as ironic confirmation of their besetting triviality.

I don't care how much one loathes the CPC or how twisted one's sense of humour is. I'm damned if I see a way to enjoy any of this.

14 comments:

Ryan said...

Hey, I'm fine with the Conservatives getting outrageous sums of campaign over-spending back from the tax-payer.

I've always considered myself a patron of the arts--just never political theatre in the form of tragic-comedy.

Ti-Guy said...

whose large and fanatical fanbase merely acts as ironic confirmation of their besetting triviality.

Ouch.

To be fair, I don't know what I'd do without the large and fanatical fanbase. I'd have to spend far more time analyzing Conservative policy and the statements of Conservative politicians and their courtiers to figure out exactly what is being communicated.

For example, exposing The Hidden Agenda (tm) could not have been possible without the Conservative rank-and-file vocally denying the existence of such an agenda to their detractors while simultaneously comforting each other with assertions that Harper is only doing what needs to be done to ensure that his real vision for Canada is implemented at a future date.

C-10 and C-484 have been recent examples of this, although there are many more.

Red Tory said...

I suppose you could consider it added insult to the injury of being bilked out a few hundred thousand dollars, but I thought it was most obliging of the CPC spokesbots to provide us with such a wonderful moment of slapstick comedy.

Sir Francis said...

Red:

We've always thought that the CPC hates the press, but it's quite a shock to learn that they're actually afraid of the press. Sad.

Red Tory said...

How weird is it that they would "invite" the Toronto Star to their little media shindig and exclude the folks from CanWest? If someone can make sense of that, I'm all ears.

Ti-Guy said...

If someone can make sense of that, I'm all ears.

Jim Travers was on Politics with Don Newman this afternoon. Maybe they thought The Star would spin it anti-Dion? It might have, had the rest of the media not gotten wind of it.

Who knows, who cares. They're idiots.

pretty shaved ape said...

I can't get that music from the Benny Hill show out of my head. If only the Cons could get their scampering on video they could have a TV show, of course they'd need a pretty girl, one that wasn't home tending the baking, baked beans and babies.

Ian said...

"I'm damned if I see a way to enjoy any of this."

Well I'm certainly enjoying your prose of disenjoyment Dred

"an under-written Hee-Haw skit"

Ha! Perfect.

Peter Burnet said...

everything by which it should be motivated--ideas, visions, debate, passion--shall be banished from the national conversation,

Hmm, when have you ever known the press, the opposition or the electorate to shield their eyes from the muck of a good scandal in order to pursue debate on higher ideals and principles? You might as well complain Entertainment Tonight is squeezing out Shakespeare. Surely a good Family Compact man like you knows that democracy isn't to be cherished because it exalts our innate nobility. To paraphrase Churchill, it fuels and indulges the scumminess of a deeply flawed race, but the alternatives are so much more horrific.

Might as well put your feet up, crack a cold one and enjoy the show. Besides, haven't you heard righteous anger is the in thing today?

Ti-Guy said...

Is this how you followed politics during the Trudeau era, Peter? Put up your feet and relaxed when the atrocities were being committed in Southeast Asia and the American left was being exterminated?

I'm only asking because, under normal circumstances, all of this could be political theatre. But remember: Stephen Harper and his associates wanted Canada to join the Iraq invasion and was livid that we didn't, implied that Canadian Maher Arar was a terrorist in the House of Commons, asserted that Israel's atrocities during the Lebanon war in 2006 constituted "a measured response," concealed information about the abuse of Afghani prisoners of war taken by Canadian Forces, and looks to have broken the law to manipulate the outcome of an election.

These are high crimes, not simple scumminess.

Peter Burnet said...

Is this how you followed politics during the Trudeau era, Peter? Put up your feet and relaxed when the atrocities were being committed in Southeast Asia and the American left was being exterminated?

Why yes, Ti-Guy. My pals and I would frequently gather over the rarest and most expensive imported ales to celebrate news of yet another Asian atrocity and cheer lustily as all those nasty American leftists bit the dust.

Good times, good times.

Ti-Guy said...

Well, I don't understand why you find these issues trivial. Maybe you can explain it.

I'll never forgive Harper for the position he took on the Iraq Invasion. I'm having trouble forgiving anyone who supported it.

Sir Francis said...

...haven't you heard righteous anger is the in thing today?

I wouldn't say righteous anger is "in", politically speaking; I would say it's a classic--like black.

Admittedly, it can be over-worn. I recall it being a drearily predictable theme of the Reform-Alliance's rhetorical wardrobe; sadly, they usually managed to make it look like fool's motley.

Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

You said:

"...Rather, a cheap Three Stooges routine unfolds, as a panicked government literally runs from hotel to hotel in a furious bid to avoid the Canadian Press and the CBC after having invited the media to a press conference."

Yup.

A rose by any other name...

You have no idea how disappointed a Harper supporter is by all of this.

Its not the scheme, its the lack of responsbility for their actions.

Did someone in CPC HQ actually think that the MSM would give them good copy if they only...?

Tomm