Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Just Watch Me

I am reading Paul Litt's "Elusive Destiny: The Political Vocation of John Napier Turner." I am doing this to learn more about how Liberals think, which is (as those who read this space regularly know) something I take a great interest in.

Reviews of this book suggested it would lay bare the Liberal civil wars that have, in large part, destroyed the party. What I have found so far, though, is a nauseating love letter to Turner and to a mythical Canada of ages past. Page after page cataloguing Turner's athletic and political accomplishments, his success with women, the effect of his striking good looks, and how, heroically, he would not compromise his Captain Kirk junior-executive Mad Men image (yes, Litt actually compares Turner to Captain James T. Kirk) as times changed. This Godly man, this Olympian character, brought low in the second half of the book (which I have yet to read) by a group of calculating schemers jealous of Turner's greatness. Woe, woe, lament for a dead nation.

According to the book, Turner once saved John Diefenbaker, his political enemy, from drowning. That same man now has to watch an Ottawa where Justin Trudeau, the son of the man in whose government Turner served, declaring that what the Prime Minister is doing is nothing short of un-Canadian and spouting pseudo-separatist rhetoric, while the rest of the Liberal Party has apparently decided that Vic Toews' wife and family are fair game. And, while all that's going on, we have Liberals and Liberal-friendly commentators trying to contain the excitement (which they share) by saying there are some lines you don't cross. Like, for example, pointing out that the Liberals had their own online snooping bill.

Meanwhile, we have to read smarmy columns about Tim Hudak's recognition that he was too careful and too cautious in October, and that he's going to have to be a lot more aggressive as a result. What a ridiculous idea! Never mind that the same people mocked him for being too scripted on the campaign. Anyway, if you have to ask why Trudeau and the Vikileaks people get the "aw shucks, but their hearts are in the right place" treatment, but Tim Hudak gets ridiculed, you obviously don't know that Tim Hudak is a conservative, and Trudeau/Vikileaks aren't.

If you don't agree that there's a double standard there, ask yourself this question: Will Trudeau's outburst keep him from being Prime Minister someday?

Now let me be clear about one thing: I would very much prefer Justin Trudeau's radicalism and the Vikileaks online harrassment to Dalton McGuinty's butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth act, and that's because Dalton's act is a total fraud. Apart from the Working Families Coalition, Dalton McGuinty employs a group of cold-blooded partisans who stopped just short of launching a full blown attack on Tim Hudak's wife. The idea that Dalton has no idea what these people are up to all day is ludicrous. Everybody who cares, and a lot of people who don't care, about Ontario politics knows this, and everyone but us Tories are content to let Dalton off the hook for doing it. Somehow though, nobody wants to put two and two together.

The Drummond Report proves that the old Ontario is no more and we must change or die. But the polls show that people don't want to change. They'd rather cling to their pretty illusions. Maybe they'd rather have the deficit be five times what it was now, so long as they don't have to worry about divisive policies that might fix Ontario, but will also make people angry.

John Turner is a nice guy, a talented guy, a principled guy. He wasn't one of those lowly schemers who undermined him. And that's precisely why he never realized his full potential. Because nice, talented, principled people like John Turner have it exactly backwards. The people of Ontario, and Canada, don't want nice, talented, principled people. They say they do, but their actions belie them. And Turner's mistake was trying to give people what they said they wanted, instead of making them take what he gave them. Trudeau Sr. never made that mistake. Trudeau Sr. said "Just Watch Me." And he meant it.

Tim Hudak does not have to pay any heed to people who think being more aggressive is a recipe for disaster. This province is dying, and decisive action is required. If he wasn't aggressive next time, I would have to wonder how serious he was about being Premier and fixing the deficit. But more importantly, he doesn't have to listen to Liberals criticizing him for being over the line, because those same Liberals are cheering on Justin Trudeau and the Vikileaks people right now. Some more loudly than others.

For the Liberals, the end has always justified the means, in Turner's time, and now. They enforced their will on Canada for decades. The PC Party of old did the same. Mike Harris did the same. McGuinty's doing the same. Every successful politician in this country's history did the same.

The second you refuse to cross a line for fear of offending someone is the second you lose the right to govern.