Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Harper's Mephistopheles



Politics has always been a nasty profession. But Stephen Harper has brought a new viciousness to the way it is practiced in Canada.  That viciousness, Michael Harris writes, has been orchestrated by a merchant of venom -- Arthur Finkelstein:

Three U.S. Republican presidents, countless senators and other right-wing world leaders like Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu owe their success to Arthur J. Finkelstein’s brilliance as a communications mastermind.

Finkelstein bases his approach to politics on three axioms:

“Finkel-think” is an approach to new-age techno-politics based on three principles: 60 per cent of people don’t care about the news; perception, not content, is what matters in our dumbed-down age; and the right 15-second attack ad can separate a rival’s head from his shoulders in a heartbeat.

And he has left his mark:

Before Finkelstein, the word “liberal” was a descriptor with many positive connotations, including tolerance and even enlightenment. After him, “liberal” became the ultimate political pejorative. It was used to brand and dismiss progressives as left-wing loons with dubious values and a bad habit of raising taxes and spending the numbers off the credit card. Never mind that the truth was the exact opposite — Clinton/Bush-wise, that is. But perception, not reality, is what matters.

The key to success in political marketing, according to Finkelstein, is to find the magic switch that moves people from rational to emotional mode. No one understands the politics of personal destruction better than Stephen Harper. The wimpy-looking Stephane Dion was “Not a Leader”; the cosmopolitan Michael Ignatieff was “Just Visiting”; and now Justin Trudeau is “In Over his Head”. Not exactly deep stuff — but again, content doesn’t matter.

And that explains the political success of a hollow man like Stephen Harper. But that success has come at a price for the country and for Harper. The prime minister made a Faustian bargain when he hired his Mephistopheles.

It's worth remembering that Faustian bargains do not end well.

23 comments:

the salamander said...

.. best to perceive Stephen Harper for what he is.. a coward. That's his primary 'value' .. a proven trait.

We ended up with a Canadian Prime Minister who is a coward and a bully.. a manipulative schemer.. a cheat

To think a decade could somehow go by, in Canada.. where a shrill narcissistic incompetent.. 'leading' even more deluded pretenders.. survived.. or thrived .. is simply stunning..

But he promised we would not recognize Canada when he was through with it.. and that's where we are now.. trying to peer through the murk, the fog of partisan manipulation and toxic legislation .. still listening to this gang of outrageous cheaters

Like the First Nations before us.. we need to accept that we have been sold smallpox blankets, and accepted bad whisky.. manipulated like children.. by a feral 'grooming' political party not much different than The Hudson Bay Company backed by the 'royalty' and the British Empire

As a Canadian .. I am disgusted.. stunned.. in disbelief
.. and I will go into the forests
before I will accept what is being perpetrated ..

Owen Gray said...

We have bought snake oil, salamander. And we should have known better.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately that seems to be the case, if the Trudeau Liberals do not rabidly attack Harper it will hurt their chances as strange as it may be. Case in point “Christy Clark scores with attack ads…’ Walkom rants in thestar.com in April 2013 before the BC provincial election. The NDP went into the election with a crushing lead in the polls and Christy was/is one of the most despised politicians here in BC and yet due mostly to vicious attack ads on the NDP, the Liberal government swept in with a majority, what and why?

“As a marketing agency, we viewed the election last week as both voters, interested in the future of our province, and as media specialists, analyzing the campaigns from a strategic point of view. Which is why, from a purely marketing perspective, the NDP’s underwhelming results in last week’s provincial election were the fruit of a campaign that failed to utilize negative advertising…

Despite their increased popularity, Mr. Dix stated that he would not engage in attack ads directed at Premier Clark, a notion that he steadfastly held on to even as his once-impressive lead in the polls dwindled in the weeks preceding the election. Mr. Dix’s strategists likely felt that the Premier’s low approval rating (at one point 25%, good for the lowest in Canada) and the public backlash against the BC Liberal Party’s HST controversy would be enough to carry the NDP to victory.” –From;

http://www.curvecommunications.com/2013/05/why-did-negative-attack-ads-work-in-bc-election/

Clark was so disliked she lost to the NDP in her own riding, but that did not stop the ‘photo op premier’ instead of handing over the reins she ceremoniously dumped Ben Stewart (Westside-Kelowna) a popular local incumbent who won easily with 27 percentage points over his nearest rival. The Liberal machine dowsed the fact that that Westside-Kelowna was the strongest liberal riding in BC and Chrissy should easily win. The machine claimed Stewart stepped aside ‘graciously’ but his wife let the cat out of the bag it was anything but stepping aside he was burned and dumped. Well what do you expect from the second largest attack machine in Canada? Ben did get appointed as BC’s Investment and Trade Minister for Asia, a cushy job that includes a residence in Beijing free travel, hosting, gifting,… what ever the hell that means.

Mulcair and Trudeau take heed: good guys like Adrian Dix, former leader of the BC NDP had a great lead and blew it by not blasting the corrupt and vile government Cheesy Clark ran, she was un-elected and her bag of tricks included vote fraud, all kinds of dirty tricks, living the high life on public funds, letting her staff do the same combined with lies and deceit that was Clark’s Liberal government, but she won. Attack ads are the only thing that gets through to apathetic voters because their lives are so miserable they like to get in on bashing anyone, just start flinging the shit and the slackers will gleefully join in. Clark is second in line only behind Harper for obfuscation and treachery in governments in Canada.

Remember apathetic slackers who don't vote and whose life sucks love a good mud fling, they revel in it, give them something to party over – destroy Harper’s reputation, he has given us plenty of fuel, in the most mean spirited way, attack, attack, attack and keep on hammering him from now to the next election in a way the hockey fan loves fights: incite them against everything Harper.

Mogs

Owen Gray said...

We really have reached a sad state of affairs, Mogs.

ron wilton said...

As much as I gree with and enjoyed immemsely the comments from salamander and mogs(?), I do think we should not stoop to the low level politics of either harper or clark.

They have a lot more dirt tricks ammo in their arse(enals) than most civil humans would ever think of let alone practice.

Both harper and clark, along with their snarling puppypacks, will implode before the next election time and we, through you and other alert bloggers and posters, will have learned a painfull but worthwhile lesson and neither Canada nor BC will see their likes again for a very long time.

Owen Gray said...

I hope your prediction proves true, Ron. The common good is not served by the politics of personal destruction.

liberalandlovingit said...

...I tend to agree with Mogs. And in a way, Im loving the final scenes, in the Harper debacle...and with so much more to come - it's almost worth the pain.

Owen Gray said...

The problem with watching the drama, Loving It, is knowing that the longer he stays, the more damage he does.

liberalandlovingit said...

The problem with living the con drama, Owen, is that they've taken chunks of us we'll never get back. That's a given with the Conservative movement. There will be some who regret their association with Harper &Co...even Attwater saw the error of his ways - from his deathbed. "Mean Conservatism" he called it! As if there's any other kind.

Owen Gray said...

I've always found it ironic that Attwater died of brain cancer, Loving It. To me, it seemed peculiarly appropriate -- poetic justice.

Anonymous said...

The BC Liberals are, Harper's satellite party. Harper rewarded Gordon Campbell the post as, High Commission to the U.K. Campbell did a lot of dirty work for Harper. Campbell twice lied and cheated to win his election, just as his good buddy Harper did. Christy lied and cheated to win her election as well.

Problem is? We have no idea how much of Canada, Harper has already signed away? We need to get rid of Harper, like yesterday already or, we won't have a country left.

Even Putin named Harper a fascist, of the fascist west. I wonder how many more countries call Harper a fascist? They don't like Harper and that is for sure.

Owen Gray said...

Harper has made a lot of enemies, Anon. In fact, he goes out of his way to make enemies.

Anonymous said...

Owen & Ron,

Face the facts the slacker non-voter is so apethetic a brawl on ice is the only way to make him/her awake and participate.

Now it is a proven social/science fact that as in math a double negative produces a positive result. Yet a negative multiplied by a positive results in a negative: hence Harper and Clarks win.

It is as plain as the nose on our face. In order not to offend your emotions look on it as a pure math equation, not as stooping to the Harper negative but seeing and revealing/showing Harper's negative and raising a win away from him to a positive new government through exposing his negative.

Lib & Loving I think you are old enough to see my tactics do not slump to the lowest common denominator they just fight fire with fire or negative with negative to produce a positive. As a fire lit to destroy a deadly blaze can douse the rouge fire before it poliferates. We should be on fire harper is bad for Canadians.

Mogs

Anonymous said...

But most of all to you queasy non-math types destroy Harper with the truth!

There is plenty of ammo there without offending your morals.

Mogs

Owen Gray said...

But remember, Mogs, he will deny the truth -- again and again.

Dana said...

Which was the most recent Faustian bargain to end badly, Owen ? And badly for whom ?

I don't think ante-millennium literary metaphors work all that well any more, frankly.

Owen Gray said...

I would argue that Cheney was George W.'s Mephistopheles, Dana.

He didn't direct political messaging. But for five of six years he had Bush's ear.

Steve said...

Owen the problem is we have a OS5 ruling class and most people have OS1 processors.

bcwaterboy said...

I can't understand why the opposition parties don't produce attack ads that go for the cynicism the harper's and clark's of the political world are fanning. Simply point out that the ads are intended to dupe and get a "habitual liar" tagline to stick to these two jokers. Clark in particular flounders when she's taken off message and by someone gutsy enough to throw her lies back in her face, could well succeed in sticking her with a label that won't go away.

Owen Gray said...

The ruling class assumes -- correctly -- that the rest of us will be the victims of our own ignorance, Steve.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, waterboy. It's a matter of calling out the snake oil salesmen. That tactic has worked in the past.

They were carried out of town on a rail.

e.a.f. said...

Trudeau isn't in over his head, he can hold his head up high.

Harper and his slimers can't hold up their heads, they are covered in the slime of their corruption and wasting of our resources.

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, e.a.f., Harper has convinced his base that he's a virtuous man.