Sunday, May 25, 2014

When Friends Become Enemies

The number of chairs around the table in Stephen Harper's Inner Sanctum hasn't changed. Same number of chairs, same number of people. But, according to Tom Flanagan, the quality of those people has changed:

In an interview, Flanagan, who admits the prime minister doesn't talk to him anymore, said, "He's lost so many people, it's kind of sad. We were good friends. When I would come to Ottawa I would stay at Stornoway."

In earlier years, Harper's staff often included lawyers, professors and business executives. Others had worked for previous prime ministers, and possessed an institutional memory of Parliament and a well-honed sense of what to learn from past political mistakes.

Flanagan listed a series of "very able people" who have passed through Harper's team. "Ken Boessenkool, Ian Brodie, Geoff Norquay, Bruce Carson — whatever his personal problems, are he's a very capable adviser —  Keith Beardsley, Guy Giorno,  Nigel Wright, David Emerson, Michael Fortier."

The people who now serve Harper are loyal but narrow:

Beardsley thinks Harper isn't attracting what Flanagan calls "top drawer" people because of rules in place since 2008 that prohibit lobbying for five years following a job as a designated public office holder.

"People aren't going to come up for one or two years. It's not worth it to them financially and career-wise."

Currently, Beardsley said, many of the PMO staff come out of the parliamentary intern program. "They're all young and basically of one mindset," he said.
That mindset, said Beardsley, is something former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff references about his time in politics.

“We’ve blurred opponent with enemy,” Ignatieff said, in a speech last year to a law school audience. “Belonging matters more than confidence, expertise or trustworthiness.”

In the Harperian universe anyone who holds a contrary opinion is the enemy. And, Stephen Harper believes that many people who used to work for him are now enemies.


Scotian said...

Don't forget that with Harper enemies are to be destroyed utterly without mercy, completely, and totally, with salt driven strewn on the earth of their graves. This was always a major part of why I was such a fierce for of his ever attaining the PMO in the first place, letting a man with his temperament and his inability to differentiate between the concepts of opponent versus enemy hold the power of the PM in this country was a recipe for true disaster, division, and wedge politics of a type never before seen here. When you combine that with the mindset of political fanatics (which young people from political internships tend to be, it tends to be inherent to the nature of the beast) and combine it with a leader who acts in such and requires absolute loyalty and Omerta truly worthy of the legendary mafia godfathers, well you have something that is incredibly dangerous for any nation, let alone one like ours.

In Harper's world you are either his tool or his enemy, he has shown himself to be the most arrogant PM in our history, no small feat. It was bad enough when he had capable people around him to act as some sort of check, but these days he is unchecked by anything other than his own desires, and given how he has proven that he has no real self control/governance once he holds power we have as our PM something no Canadian has ever seen running the country. This is why I *HATE* being Cassandra, bad enough to foresee all of this before it happened, but the ridicule one receives while trying to warn of it when the warning would have actually done some good is what really burns at one.

Harper takes the "with us or against us" approach to levels not even Dick Cheney did, Harper is in many respects Dick Cheney without the principles, a truly scary thing indeed, and no more healthy for Canada than the Quebecois separatists were.

This was all foreseeable, which is why I find it so difficult to forgive those who should have seen this coming and chose to instead place their narrow partisan lusts for power ahead of the greater good of the nation at a time of true threat. Harper was not a mere rhetorical threat, he was a clear real one to all, even to most of those who voted for him thinking he was just a little more right-wing than the traditional Canadian Conservatives of the past. I refuse to believe that I am smarter, more perceptive, and able to recognize within Harper his nature more than those whose lives professional as well as personal are filled with politics. So if I saw all of this I have to believe Layton did, Dipper advisors did, and the choice to letting Harper have even a minority let alone a majority government rather than allowing a tired corrupt Liberal government to retain power should have been as obvious to them as it was to me.

They made their choice, the Dipper supporters followed suit, and now they avoid all responsibility despite at the time being the only ones with the power to prevent this nightmare from ever having happened. That is why I cannot forgive them nor let it go, it is not just that they enabled this man, it is that they refuse to accept responsibility for the consequences of their decisions, which is also why I think they are no better suited to hold governing power than Harper himself, because power should never be held by those unwilling to face that their actions carry consequences.

We live in the nightmare version of Canada, and even if Harper is removed from power next election the damage will be literally decades repairing, if even possible at all. The damage his approach has done to our political environment in some ways may be even harder to repair, because scorched earth politics works for a time, but the price one pays for it is truly extreme, and was never a part of the Canadian way. Yet I see the "new" NDP clearly deciding to try and adapt the Harper playbook for their own ends instead of remaining true to their history, a sad thing indeed.

Owen Gray said...

"Dick Cheney without principles." That characterizes the man succinctly, Scotian.

The Mound of Sound said...

Harper no longer has advisers. He has facilitators, sycophants. Would he have gone after the Chief Justice if he wasn't surrounded by trained seals in the PMO? His chief of staff is a kid who used to live in the rooms above the garage at Sussex Drive. When you're convinced you're the brightest man in the room and have no one to tell you otherwise, you're going to become a victim of your own impulses.

Owen Gray said...

The Smartest Guy in the Room is afraid of people who don't see the world as he does, Mound.

Which is to say that he really isn't the smartest guy in the room.

The Mound of Sound said...

My best Ottawa Tory pal still thinks there's a good chance he'll be gone by mid-July, Owen. Given that he's not able to attract any major leaguers to work the PMO that seems plausible. Is Jason Kenney getting himself measured for a prime minister's suit? Harper would want somebody extremely reliable to take over, someone who can keep a lid on things long enough for memories to fade. I think Harper would like to be gone at least a year before the Liberals returned to power.

the salamander said...

.. I think it wise to perceive Harper and his Harper Party Government as recklessly manipulative. They now control massive legal support - can litigate, obstruct, delay, hide. Van Loan et al spend staggering resources playing the parliamentary game to support the various unmandated Harper agendas - Corporatism - Evangalism - Anti-Environmentalism - Israel uber alles - Resource Stripping - Military Adventurism

.. Just review the proven facts of what Harper's chosen capos were tasked with. Flanagan, Arthur Porter, Bruce Carson, Nigel Wright, Gerstein, Boessenkool, Jenni Byrne, Arthur Hamilton, Peter Kent, Ray Novak, Stephen Lecce, Fred DeLorey..

The legacy of these phenomenal losers is staggering..
but then the legacy of who they served even moreso
It takes courage to identify an outbreak or trend
as an absolute plague.. a dangerous contagion..
But we have the antidote.. diagnostic & fumigation tools.. and just like Iceland, we can recover our country from vandals, psychos, deadbeats, liars, partisan fools and sellouts

Scotian said...

Owen Gray:

Especially when you take into account both men come from political philosophies created by Leo Strauss. Dick Cheney at least practiced what Strauss preached while VP/puppetmaster, Harper only does so so far as it helps him then he does whatever he wants. I came up with the comparison last Christmas with my folks over dinner. It is so scary that someone makes Dick Cheney look principled and good by comparison, and he is our current PM. When you PM makes a man who got his friend to apologize for having his face in the way of his shotgun blast look good, you know your country is in serious excrement.

Owen Gray said...

The example of Iceland is instructive, salamander. A lot of us in the blogosphere have become pretty cynical and pessimistic.

Iceland proves that a country can throw off the chains of robber capitalism.

Toby said...

Scotian's plaint that this was all foreseeable is correct. There are many of us who did foresee it and were often ridiculed when we spoke out. What is sad is that most of those who have come lately to the anti-Harper table have only done so because they were personally affected, showing no concern about their fellow Canadians, Parliamentary procedure, due process, the Constitution, statistics, science or anything more worldly than their cell phone plan.

When Layton and Dion tried to form a coalition, some of us understood that there would be one chance to slay the dragon and that failure to do so would be disastrous. Rather than face the task at hand, enormous egos got in the way and still do. I see no sign that the Liberals, especially, got the message. In my own riding, I have seen no sign from either the Liberals or the NDP that there is an election coming next year; as in the past, their local riding associations will sleep through it.

My prediction is that Harper & crew will win another election while gleefully watching the Liberals and NDP snipe at each other.

Owen Gray said...

It's really interesting that Tory insiders feel he'll jump ship, Mound.

But it's a safe bet that he won't jump until he's found a safe place to land -- and, surely, the plan will involve covering his tracks.

Owen Gray said...

I sincerely hope you're wrong, Toby -- but I freely admit that could happen.

Mound's source says that Harper will be gone by the summer. It will be interesting to see if that prediction comes true.

Owen Gray said...

What is amazing, Scotian, is that Leo Strauss still holds some sway in the academic community.

When you consider the damage his disciples have done, you would think that some serious re-examination would be in order.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Toby. My Ottawa Tory pal also opined that, if Harper doesn't split this summer, there's talk he might call a snap election after Labour Day and hope to steamroller Trudeau as he did Ignatieff.

mogs moglio said...

I am also called on my seeing Harper as phoney Baloney I do not care I get ridiculed. I do indeed see much shame as a human watching someone so sleazy and slimely as Harper dislocate everything generations of Canadians have worked so hard to attain. The man is a robot or lizard with no feelings. Excuse me lizards for putting you non Stephen's level.

I am traveling through southern BC and my heart warmed when I saw a huge city sized billboard in the middle of the country flanked by horses and cows that said "STOP STEPHEN HARPERS CHINESE PIPLINE"

We all know Harper is insane, we are the fools who left the door open.

the salamander said...

.. mid July, late on a friday evening.. I believe Mound has it right. I've predicted a medical excuse will arise.. and there goes Thieven Stephen stage right to his Board of Directorships based out of Washington.. or more likely, Geneva. A heart murmur or the discovery he has no heart.. much less one that glows.

Or perhaps a rare gastrointestinal affliction.. esentially being found to be gutless. So an extended paid leave of absence, that will become endless, but requires a full on security detail ad infinitum, plus a jet, plus the armored limo plus the Ray Novak ... much interns

Prentice and James Moore can duke it out for the vacancy while Kenney rummages in the closet. MacKay will bluster something about serving Canada then evaporate. Clemente could never survive the gazebo jokes. And who's left that actually knows how all the frauds work? Ray Novak? No, he goes offshore with his beloved Stevie.

I will vomit if I hear Oliver, Baird, or Fantino mentioned.. But Gail Shea as the sacrificial dumbkoff who is trashed by Trudeau & Mulcair would be acceptable to me.. she deserves to be publically humiliated.

As Sona & Duffy & Wright become legal evidence that Arthur Hamilton has no standing in.. and other whistleblowers are yet to blow.. Harper will be boarding our jet to his very own Royal Bitumen Consultancies and staggering payoffs.

Perhaps Kuwait will suit his asthma and disinterest in alcohol. His background in destructive environmental practice should serve him well in many Arab countries. A lecturer with numerous honorary royal degrees could help, since he has little or no practical job experience other than sorting mail or spying on ordinary folk

Lets face it.. a Harper Party Government retreat to minority status will be unacceptable.. and attempting another prorogue cements him as a serial evader and cheater.. and the wheels will be falling off the circling Conservative wagons as the First Nations steal their horses back and start yipping for his hairpiece. Good gawd, did his hair consultant sign a lifetime silence deal? (for how much?)

And how will the leveraging of Laureen work out then ?
If we think Mulroney became radioactive politically .. what is Harper? A walking strontium 90 dirtbomb?

Dana said...

Academia has more than a little to answer for, on many levels, in this rapidly deteriorating world.

Owen Gray said...

A degree suggests that someone may have studied a body of knowledge, Dana. But it doesn't suggest that one has acquired wisdom.

Smart people do incredibly stupid things.

Owen Gray said...

Like so many of his provincial counterparts -- Jean Charest, Dalton McGuinty, Alison Redford -- Harper's fall will be like greased lightning, salamander.

He'll be gone quicker than you can say, "Who was that masked man?"

Owen Gray said...

The billboard is interesting, Mogs. It suggests that the control freak is losing control.

Owen Gray said...

You've mentioned that before, Mogs. It's certainly in the realm of possibility for the man who says he believes in fixed election dates.