Friday, February 13, 2009

Brooding Harper Taking a Walk?

I'm seeing this story all over the place, that Stephen Harper is demoralized, and possibly contemplating retirement. The biased Canadian media always gives him a hard time, but there seems to be something to this. Don Martin from the National Post explains:

MPs confide there's a darkening mood in the big guy himself, hardly surprising given the stormy economic challenge Mr. Harper faces. One source says there was a blowup between a furious Prime Minister and key players last week. And PMO chief of staff Guy Giorno is now plotting the second major internal shuffle in eight months.

What does all this mean? Search me. But some who orbit just outside Mr. Harper's innermost circle speculate that a Conservative party with no heir apparent could lose its leader before the next election.

If true, I can't help but think of this as a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington tragedy.

Since I have reached voting age, Preston Manning, and Harper are the only politicians I have believed in. Guys who I backed with my mind and heart.

I saw Manning speak when I was a student at Carelton twice. The first time it was in front of, at most, 50 of us in a lecture hall. I was impressed that he spoke at a high level. He didn't play a phony populist and spoke as an intellectual. He quoted Burke and Locke.

Around the same time, a friend of mine attended a Paul Martin lecture, and he spoke about the future "green economy." There was a campus buzz. This was hip, new. Unfortunately this sums why Manning, a principled intellectual to fault, would lose out to the trendy, gimmick salesmen of the Liberal Party. (Such was being a student in Ottawa, you got to see politicians.)

Manning never could make it, but up came Harper after the Stockwell Day disaster. Same thing as Manning. He was a wonk. An economics geek, a number cruncher. Authentic. (Though not nearly as a good a speaker. It's unbelievable that Manning was seen as un-charismatic.)

Harper knew he had to play politics and win elections. The base, were prepared to accept compromises. He's won two elections, but as a minority government. No doubt, the office has worn on him. Why wouldn't it?

Harper needs a new, fresh plan of attack. Is it in him? Time will tell.

I still think he should have stood up to the coalition threat. Force an election. If not, allow them to take over with Dion as the PM. Can you imagine that clown presiding over things right now? This terrible budget would be theirs to hang around their necks.

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