Sunday, August 02, 2015

I Think Not

                                             https://twitter.com/johnibbitson

On Saturday, the Globe and Mail published an excerpt from John Ibbitson's recently published book, Stephen Harper. The piece begins with a pean to Harper:

He is a lion in autumn, weaker than in his prime, but still a force of nature. He faces his fifth, and perhaps final, test as national leader. But in a way, the result won’t matter. Whether Stephen Harper wins or loses the general election of October 19 is moot. He has already reshaped Canada. And Canada will not easily be changed back.
He has made the federal government smaller, less intrusive, less ambitious. He has made Canada a less Atlantic and a more Pacific nation.
He has brought peace to a fractious federation. Under his leadership, Canada speaks with a very different voice in the world. He has also given us a very different politics – more intensely partisan, more ideological, more polarizing. This, too, is unlikely to change, now that people are used to it.

Peace? I'm not so sure. Later in the piece, Ibbitson writes of Stephen Harper's flaws. He's a man whose personal psychology has made him a disastrous choice for prime minister:

There are disagreeable aspects to Stephen Harper’s personality. He is prone to mood swings. He can fly off the handle. He goes into funks, sometimes for long periods. He is suspicious of others. The public is aware of these traits mostly through what’s written and reported in the media. In public, Harper is almost invariably calm, measured, and careful in what he says and how he says it. Yet none of us, watching him, have any difficulty believing that this closed, repressed personality is capable of lashing out from time to time. We all get the vibe. His personality also comes out in the tactics that the Conservative Party uses against its enemies, both perceived and real – which are, in a word, ruthless.

Another of Harper’s less attractive qualities is a perceived lack of loyalty toward others. One-time political adviser Tom Flanagan points out that Harper has betrayed or estranged many in the conservative movement who were at one time senior to him – Joe Clark, Jim Hawkes, Brian Mulroney, Preston Manning. This, Flanagan believes, is the product of Harper’s need to dominate whatever environment he is in. “I think he has this very strong instinct to be in charge,” he said. “He really wants to be the alpha figure, and he’s achieved that. So part of that is to dispose of anyone who might be considered to be a rival in some sense or another.”

Flanagan also asserts that “there is a huge streak of paranoia in Stephen. And he attracts people who have a paranoid streak. And if you don’t have one to begin with, you develop it, because you’re constantly hearing theories.” At its root, “looking back, there’s a visceral reluctance to trust the motives of other people,” Flanagan concludes. “He often overcomes his initial suspicions and will sign on to other people’s ideas. But the initial response is always one of suspicion.” Flanagan believes Harper is prone to depression. “He can be suspicious, secretive, and vindictive, prone to sudden eruptions of white-hot rage over meaningless trivia,” he wrote in 2014, “at other times falling into week-long depressions in which he is incapable of making decisions.”

Not disagreeable, Mr. Ibbitson. Dangerous. Such a man is capable of making momentous mistakes. And Harper has made many.  Should he receive a fourth mandate? I think not.


14 comments:

zoombats said...

I don't know that I would care to read any book on Harper that tried to present him in any positive light. I find his(Harper) character so flawed that find any positive character assertion credible would leave me gobsmacked to say the least. I actually have the same response when I meet anyone who is stupid enough to admit voting for the swine!

Owen Gray said...

Ibbitson, zoombats, has been gobsmacked by Harper.

Rural said...

“I think he has this very strong instinct to be in charge,” he said. “He really wants to be the alpha figure .........

I believe "Dictator" is the work Mr Ibbitson was seeking, Owen

Owen Gray said...

Being in charge and playing by the rules set out in the constitution is one thing, Rural. Being in charge and making your own rules is something else again. Mr. Harper is something else.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Ditto what rural said Owen.

the salamander said...

.. Stephen Harper .. - Glib .. in a practiced, endlessly flawed repetitive way.. Like a nervous shoe salesman pimping a discounted shoe seen in a flyer.. Listen to James Moore, John Baird, Tony Clement, Pierre Poilievre.. they're even more glib - far more polished even gifted, but on a leash. Its cheap sellout neocon ideology in a skirt with lipstick.. repeated endlessly.. droned, hummed, sung, barked, pimped, written. Its all less then D level circus - single ring wrestling script.. but then people will pay to see a circus right? In reality, careful study proves Harper can barely talk like an ordinary human being. He's so used to adding quasi legal vague descriptives into every sentance.. plus dropong big new. words that he finds impressive. Paramountcy fer gawds sake, Obviously Clearly As I Stated Clearly Previously All Canadians And Hard Working Families.. Its Prime Ministerial pablum regurgitated in the drone voice with timely remora make believe 1/8 smiles on cue... So much of this lumbering awkward deceitful creep is pure sociopath.. no wonder he hung with creeps like Flanagan, Boessenkool, Anders, Kenney et al.. it gave Harper comfort to know those types were easily available to him and suckers for his sleezy alpha schtick.

Owen Gray said...

Rural understands the man, Pam. And he has thoroughly documented Harper's story.

Owen Gray said...

After ten years, you'd think Canadians would have no problem identifying a man who simply isn't who he claims to be, salamander. This election will tell us if Canadians have well tuned crap detectors.

Steve said...

what blather, Harper has made Caanada even more of a American place, with a weaker less dynamic future based economy, and weaker institutions, and more tribes.

Owen Gray said...

I thought Ibbitson's book on the Harris years -- Promised Land -- was a pretty good analysis, Steve. But, as the years have gone by, Ibbitson's analysis and his conclusions have just gotten more and more bizarre.

Donnie McLeod said...

Lenin described Stephen Harper.

"Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary- General. We need someone who differs in all respects from Comrade Stalin in one characteristic- namely, someone more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and considerate to his comrades."

Owen Gray said...

Harper and Stalin is an enlightening comparison, Donnie. Strange, isn't it, that Harper revels in anti-communist rhetoric?

Donnie McLeod said...

Stalin went to seminary to be a priest. He is very good at quoting the Bible. Like for Stephen Harper the Bible must have been Stalin's manual about how to use fear to control people.

Owen Gray said...

Religion has, at times, been the handmaiden of dictators, Donnie. Francisco Franco regularly received Communion.