Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Kennedy In Ottawa?

There are rumors that Caroline Kennedy will be the next American ambassador to Ottawa. Lawrence Martin writes that you shouldn't make book on that:

It’s not only the iconic liberal name that would grate on the Tories. There’s some history to be recalled here. And from a Conservative perspective, what an ugly stretch of history it is.

President John F. Kennedy was Tory enemy No. 1. The Kennedy relationship with John Diefenbaker was the worst in the history of the presidents and prime ministers. The Kennedy administration precipitated Dief’s downfall on a no-confidence vote in 1963. In the election campaign, the Cameloters worked against the Tories, giving Lester Pearson every lift they could.

Like the Diefenbaker Tories, the Harperites resent the hippness of the Obama White House. And they see things through a puritanical lens. It's that puritanism which is behind their Office of Religious Freedom -- and it causes trouble. Martin tells a story about Howard Green -- Dief's Minister of External Affairs -- whose footsteps John Bard is trying to walk in:

The Kennedyites couldn’t believe the naïveté of Dief’s foreign minister, Howard Green. Dean Rusk, Kennedy’s secretary of state, once told me of how the story made the White House rounds of a visit to Ottawa by Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba. The African leader had the reputation of a notorious fornicator. In a meeting with Green, he asked that a girl be sent over to his Chateau Laurier suite. The churchgoing Green thought he meant a typist. When the unsuspecting stenographer entered Lumumba’s room all hell broke loose.

No, Martin writes, perhaps Obama will appoint former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm: "She is articulate, charismatic and has the hands-on political experience that Caroline Kennedy lacks." And, besides, she was born in Vancouver.


thwap said...

Well, harper has nothing to compare him with a guy like Dief. Diefenbaker had a few important redeeming features. He rocked the boat in the British Commonwealth against South African apartheid for one.

And that story about Lumumba sounds like racist bullshit. I've read accounts of Lumumba, even from his enemies, and they never mention him asking for women to be served to him.

Owen Gray said...

Dief was not all bad, thwap. He stood up -- he always stood up -- for the little man. He was never the choice of the Progressive Conservative elite.

But, as Peter C. Newman documented so well in Renegade in Power, he was a bumbler -- and that talent finally blew his government up from the inside.

As for Lamumba, the party's reverence for the old empire did not sit well with emerging African nations.

Dana said...

Couldn't have been all that eager to stand up to the USA or Kennedy. He destroyed Canada's aerospace industry on behalf of the USA, the naive, frightened old fool. I have never been able to understand the ongoing veneration of Diefenbaker in this country. Sure he did a couple of things allright domestically but overall, and especially internationally, he was a complete bloody disaster.

Owen Gray said...

Some people admired Dief for his rhetoric, Dana. The problem was that -- as they say in Texas -- he was all hat and no cattle.