Stephen Harper, party insiders tell us, likes to think that he is the smartest guy in the room. But Lawrence Martin makes a good case for believing that Harper's "triumph" owes less to genius than it does to pure, dumb luck. "Luck is fleeting," Martin writes,
unless you’re Stephen Harper. The prime minister’s case is becoming all the more extraordinary. His opponents fall with a regularity that borders on the surreal.
Martin then goes on to enumerate the extraordinary string of events which have fallen Harper's way since the election:
Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Québécois have self-immolated. Polling suggested they would hold the bulk of seats in Quebec. Now they border on irrelevance, independent of anything Harper, who is not popular in Quebec, has done. The surge of the NDP saw to it.
Not only has the Bloc been removed as one of Harper’s main opponents, but since the campaign ended, the Parti Québécois has fallen into deeper disarray, as has the separatist movement. No prime minister in decades has had the Quebec sovereignist threat lightened to this extent.
As with the Bloc, hardly a soul foresaw the Liberals’ historic collapse to third place. It was primarily the NDP’s doing. Layton’s take-down of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff during the televised debates was a key factor. Since it’s Mr. Harper’s lifelong ambition to crush the Grits, he couldn’t have hoped for more.
Now Jack Layton's death seems to clear all obstacles in the Prime Minister's way.
It is a pattern which has repeated itself since Harper entered politics. Those of us with a penchant for Greek tragedy might be forgiven for thinking that the gods are punishing us. Perhaps we can take some comfort from Martin Luther King. "Unearned suffering," he said, "is redemptive."
Unfortunately, he had nothing to say about pure, dumb luck.