Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Harper's Empathy Deficit

It's no secret that Stephen Harper lacks people skills. What he really lacks, Tasha Kheiriddin writes, is empathy:

But Harper displays little understanding of human emotions. And that’s where his best-laid plans come crashing down.

He didn’t read the tea leaves on Senator Mike Duffy; stripping Duffy of his senatorship might have been the right thing to do, but wouldn’t it leave Duffy with a desperate need to defend his reputation? Harper didn’t realize that the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline might hinge on Canada’s environmental reputation; bashing the treehuggers might please the base at home, but why would President Barack Obama risk his green legacy on an environmental laggard? And Harper didn’t get that the Fair Elections Act would be perceived as unfair; Elections Canada’s get-out-the-vote campaigns are of limited effect, so why would people care if it could no longer run them?

It's remarkable that a man with so little understanding of people could succeed as a politician -- because, in the end, he screws up. His failure to appoint Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court is his latest debacle:

Harper assumed the law is the law, and there was no way the SCC could get around it. When the appointment was challenged, the prime minister decided to safeguard it by changing the rules and amended the Supreme Court Act in the House of Commons.

But judges are not robots on a bench. They are human beings, with egos and feelings. They are also members of a community that takes itself very, very seriously. They apply the law that governs all Canadians; they act as guardians of rights and freedoms; they keep overreaching governments in check. And above all, they are independent — and they must maintain that quality to preserve their reputation, and that of the legal system itself.

Which raises the question, how can such a man be elected in a democracy? The answer is hiding in plain sight: by subverting that democracy.


the salamander said...

Excellent article .. thanks !

Here's another related article.. I'm sure you've seen
from: Mark Kennedy - Postmedia News, Mar 21, 2014

- 'In 1999, he (Harper) finally met Trudeau Sr. “simply by chance” on the streets of Montreal.

“There I came face to face with a living legend, someone who had provoked both the loves and hatreds of my political passion, all in the form of a tired out, little old man,” wrote Harper.'

No mention of whether he had the courtesy,
curiosity .. or the courage to say hello..
just the demeaning description .. 'tired out, little old man'
That's all he saw or recognized.. his takeaway .. his contribution

Instead he plunged on in his op-ed .. heaping more criticism
as if Pierre Trudeau had just retired.. not died

'Trudeau had merely “embraced the fashionable causes of his time,” wrote Harper.

Getting personal, he took a jab at Trudeau over not joining the military during the Second World War: “He was also a member of the ‘greatest generation,’ the one that defeated the Nazis in war and resolutely stood down the Soviets in the decades that followed. In those battles however, the ones that truly defined his century, Mr. Trudeau took a pass.”

The article was published in the National Post Oct. 5, 2000 — two days after the funeral.'

'Now, almost 14 years after Trudeau’s death, Harper is preparing to face off in the 2015 election against the first-born son of the man he so despised.'


Owen Gray said...

I read the article, too, salamander. Harper had nothing but contempt for his former hero.

He illustrates the old truism that, if you learn to walk in other people's shoes you become wise. If you insist that they walk in yours, you become stupid.

Dana said...

Next up: looking for ways to force the Supreme Court to render all decisions in camera, to be announced by and at the convenience of the PMO.

Under threat of violence.

From the RCMP.

Owen Gray said...

If Harper gets his way, Dana, everything will be in camera.

Anonymous said...

Prime Minister Trudeau, lived life to a degree the real little man of Confederation' will never know the meaning of, thus, quite rightly- the experience.

he showed us how to wear our bleeding, liberal heart on our sleeves, as an honour
how to fight how to have fun
'n find joy doing it

...he aged
with grace
is remembered as
a true liberal
with love

Owen Gray said...

The irony is that, as a kid, Harper shared your view of Trudeau, Loving It.

Anonymous said...

I, with respect Owen, disagree. He was never a child- he was a file. Was there a mother, grandmother, to nurture, refine the coarseness of it? Teach it some grace? Manners?
Evidently not, Owen.
As I child, my superheroes were made of fantasy embellishments upon imaginations of what utopia would be--same with most kids?
The fact is- da 'boss' has no judgment now, so why would his early opinions show any?
Have you read his early writings on white, moneyed, pride?
The man is a war- and peace-criminal.

sorry, but that comparison rankled, and this topic of liberalism is near and dear to my heart.

Owen Gray said...

When Harper dropped out of the U of T, Loving It, his father arranged a job for him at Imperial Oil in Edmonton. He boarded with a couple who say that he admired Trudeau.

His reasons for that admiration may not have been good. Lots of his reasons aren't good. But after he arrived in the West, his political opinions changed radically.

Anonymous said...

as a 'dropped-out by the system' student- i admired a lot of people, too. then i chose to learn from them. his excuse?

Owen Gray said...

His excuse, Loving It, is that there are a lot of people who have nothing to teach him.

Anonymous said...

...again, sir, due to our vastly different look-out sights or pov--
learning anything requires humility- that is the definition, no, to become teachable?
and with the crowd that is the living embodiment of the seven deadly human characteristics, one should expect exactly what we see. and should 'ave damn well seen coming.
i did. and i'm a nobody with a degree in nothing.
i attend the school of the Holy Ghost- admission's been covered- and we graduates earn the highest degree--

Owen Gray said...

I'm not disagreeing with you, Loving It. It's the height of arrogance to assume that there are lots of people who have nothing to teach you.

And possessing a degree does not make you wise. Other people do.

e.a.f. said...

Harper had a vision and if we go back to his "think tank" days, we will read it all. In their haste to unseat the federal Liberals the federal Conservatives made a deal with the devil. It is suggested those in Quebec saw it first and decided to give the NDP a try.

Harper lacks empathy along with a lot of other things. He is focused on his goals and sees nothing else. He is very similar to those who embrace the Taliban and First Amendment zeolots. Harper is a zeolot and to achieve "his" goals he simply does not see a problem walking all over other peoples rights, needs, wishes, etc. Some may argue he is a psychopath, sociopathy, but for my $, he is a narcissist. Its all about him.
He knows why Vets and Armed Forces members keep killing themselves, but he wants to reduce the deficiet. He knows we need to do something about the 800 missing and murdered women in Canada, mostly First Nations and he may even care just a tad. Just not enough to do anything about it because his needs come first, .i.e. no deficient.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that Harper is a narcissist, e.a.f. -- something that others have pointed out, too.

Which is to say that he is a large child.