Monday, February 13, 2006

Sophisticated? Riiiight.

Babble on.

According to Steve Janke, Andrew Coyne and his fellow travellers on the Emerson issue have the "political sophistication of barnyard chickens."

[On a brief tangent, it didn't take long for Janke to veer away from his own advice to others:

One thing to note, though, is the civility of the disagreement. The debate has been overwhelmingly polite. Focus on the argument, not on the person. Thankfully, I don't see any reason to remind people of that.

Yeah, right. Cluck, cluck, says I.]

Read Janke:

But if the Liberals are being a bit over the top, it's in large part because they've been cheered on by largely conservative bloggers and columnists who, in my opinion, have the political sophistication of barnyard chickens. They have an understanding of the rules of Parliament and the roles of the people who make up that body that makes me wonder how they they justify calling themselves observers of the political process.

The problem with being over the top is that it can be self-fulfilling. An unjustified confidence leads to gutsy moves that in the random and chaotic world of politics might actually pay off. The tenuous grip on power currently enjoyed by the Conservatives might slip in the face of an overly aggressive Liberal Party. If it gives way, we can thank the cheap shots taken by the friends and supporters of the Conservatives, shocked that politics is not as pure as the driven snow, that it is made up of compromises and of hard choices, and that people who play it well play for the long haul focused on the results that will be enjoyed months from the present, if not years.


Janke actually blames Conservative dissenters for Stephen Harper's mistake. In that, he reminds me of Alice Edge, whose silly comments Andrew Anderson highlighted yesterday:

Alice Edge said the situation has made her ashamed as a mother. She told of badgering her sons to vote only to result in what she said is an undemocratic outcome.

"When my two young sons came home and they said to me: 'What is going on?' I got to tell you that my credibility as a mother has just been set back many, many years," she said. "I want a byelection and I want it tomorrow."


You read that correctly - because David Emerson switched parties, Mrs. Edge's credibility as a parent has been shot to hell.

Riiiigggggghhhtttttt.


Because Conservatives objected to Harper's wrongheaded cabinet selections - not because he made them in the first place, mind you, but because we objected to them - Harper's ability to govern has been shot to hell.

Riiiigggggghhhtttttt.

Now read Coyne:

Those who are determined to extinguish any hint of dissent probably think they have the party's best interests in mind. More broadly, they may think they are upholding a pragmatic view of the world, against an unyielding, unrealistic purism. They may feel that sticking too firmly to principle at any one point can jeopardize the party's ability to enact the rest of its program. And in a lot of cases they would be right.

But that doesn't mean they're right this time. I've said I don't think this one issue outweighs the whole of the Tory platform. I also don't think there's a choice to be made between them.

The debate here is not between purism and pragmatism, much as self-professed pragmatists always want to believe it is. The issue is not whether compromise is sometimes necessary, but which kinds of compromises are. Unless you think all compromises are acceptable, in which case we have nothing further to discuss.


Do I even need to encourage you to read the whole piece? Coyne says it so much better than I ever could.

Janke finishes his descent into angry, blind, and very personal tribalism with these words:

Too scary for you? Then go home to the Liberals. They'll make you feel safe, for a price of course. That's what they do best. Keep up with the sheepish bleating, and you might very well get the chance to do exactly that.


Go home to the Liberals? Steve, shut up while you're behind. You're embarrassing yourself.

Babble off.

27 Comments:

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Chris Taylor said...

That's pretty lame of him [Janke]. I don't think any conservative is calling for Harper's resignation or for the government to fall. Nobody's threatening to bolt the party for the Libs.

But it is, as Coyne says, a matter of which compromises should be made. Insulting the guys who disagree with you, though, just might drive some of them away -- and that genuinely hurts the conservative cause.

 
At 12:38 PM, Blogger doug said...

What genuinely hurts the cause is the appearance of weakness,ideological puritanism, and internal disarray. You can overcome much but not when you instantly form circular firing squads and run about in a 'populist' frenzy.

The 'tempest-in-a-teapot' over-reaction engaged in by much of the Conservative blogosphere has not been 'useful' if you want to present a long-term alternative to the Liberal Hegemony.

Taking a trip to the Marxist dialetic side of life ; What OBJECTIVE purpose is this ridiculous 'scandal' serving ? Qui Bono, gents?

It sure ain't the Conservatives(unless you happen to be living in a fantasy world world wherein GOOD intentions are always rewarded and the right always prevails) , and that leaves precious few options on left the table.

Sometimes discretion really is the better part of valour.

 
At 12:40 PM, Blogger doug said...

Stupid HTML codes.

Sorry --- for the above posting. It DID make sense at one point, but it' not worth repeating.

I blame Harper.

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger MB said...

The points from AC which you quote are much more reasonable than what he wrote last week, which, in my opinion, were over the top an lacking the perspective which he is now showing.

AC is right, it is about which kinds of compromises are acceptable, and I am willing to accept the compromises Harper has made.

This issue, on day one of the government, is not the "hill to choose to die on".

Not to defend Angry, but he may be reacting more to the amount and volume of the criticisms of Harper's picks by conservatives.

I agree Angry is a bit too angry on this one, but perhaps it is something that needed to be said.

Conservaties need to know that the large and public outcry over this issue can damage the our ability to complete the new government's program.

Is sticking to this principle worth the risk of failure to complete our program?

Every conservative must decide, but do not fail to factor in how this affects the big picture.

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Yeah, you've elevated the level of discourse so much by attacking Janke. At least he showed some humour about his post.

 
At 2:43 PM, Blogger Kelvin said...

Actually, Chris, I do recall people saying that they've dedicated themselves to seeing Harper removed from Tory party leader because of this, or suggesting the idea that a dozen or so Tories should threaten to defect to the Liberals unless Emerson goes to a by-election.

But I think Coyne's point is to ask what exactly should we Tories be directing our anger towards. The specific rectification of the Emerson and Fortier appointments, or just the general snapping back of sense into the PM so that this sort of thing doesn't occur again. I get this feeling that a lot of people won't stop until the former is achieved, but I think that's both unrealistic and myopic enough to be actually quite damaging to Tory prospects and implementing Tory ideals in the long term.

Speaking of AC, I think it's freakin' hilarious that the last week the comments have been quite vocal in bashing him for calling Harper on the appointments, and now that he says that he's made his point and won't pursue it further, it's the ones on the other side who's flooding the comments.

 
At 2:57 PM, Blogger Dark Blue Tory said...

I don't understand the internal bickering here. Fine. It was nasty and shady. Now, can we get over it please?

I personally agree with Angry's comments. But that's my opinion.

If you'd check my blog out, you'd see that, even as I feel this move isn't a huge deal, I blame the PR clowns who decided not to extinguish this immediately, but rather let it fester and get out of control.

There are rumours 10-12 more Liberals are thinking of defecting, and since cabinet is fully stocked, what do you think those reasons are?

Personally, that speaks volumes about the Liberal party now, not Stephen Harper.

This is what destroyed our party in the first place, quit trying to do it again.

 
At 3:17 PM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I've contributed money to the CPC, I've helped out at rallies, I've knocked on doors, I've put signs in the ground and distributed brochures for this party. Not to mention blogging the hell out of why the country needed a CPC government.

Once, just ONCE, I'd like one of these bozos who accuse me of trying to destroy our party to say it to my face.

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger GenX at 40 said...

Jeese - I vote NDP and I even I can tell who has screwed up with the Tories. Who should have laid down law on communication with candidates before election night? Who should have not appointed because of past statements on appointments? Who should have not accepted someone who crossed the floor into cabinet based on past statements on crossing the floor? Who should be learning lessons about running a governing political party? Certainly not the Brooksters of the world.

Now go and read on Garth Turner's blog today about how he wants ordinary people to proposed items for the budget - items apparently not in the campaign. I think you guys have a bigger problem on your hands than the Grits right now and, no, there are not 10 to 12 waiting to defect. Get real.

 
At 3:39 PM, Blogger PR said...

"Once, just ONCE, I'd like one of these bozos who accuse me of trying to destroy our party to say it to my face."

I doubt that you're trying, but these sorts of actions have consequences. Why turn on Janke for pointing these out?

If the Liberals are back in power in 12 months, what should we then think of Garth's public musings and posts like the ones you've put up here?

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger Jim said...

If the Liberals are back in power in 12 months, what should we then think of Garth's public musings and posts like the ones you've put up here?

If the Liberals are in power in 12 months, then the CPC failed to show Canadians it was a viable alternative.

It's as plain and simple as that.

That's how these rotating election victories work. It'll have nothing to do with what Damian or Garth Turner has posted.

 
At 4:36 PM, Blogger AwaWiYe said...

You're all - starting off with Chris - correct that few if any conservative supporters are looking to cut off their noses.

However, hearken to Chretien and his predecessors who understood two rules (among many):
1) Never apologize.
2) Don't do the laundry publicly.

Obviously it's difficult to criticise the party without taking it to public means, but it can be done without sweeping heights of self-flagellation. There is a lot of distance to fall before this government is anything like its predecessor. The rhetoric could stand to be muted.

 
At 5:32 PM, Blogger PR said...

"If the Liberals are in power in 12 months, then the CPC failed to show Canadians it was a viable alternative."

Exactly. And part of being a viable contender for power in a Parliamentary system is discipline.

Discipline is a virtue; it consists of putting off immediate gratification for long-term benefit. So too in Parliamentary systems: Garth should have fought off the immediate impulse to engage in his populist demagogy in order to present a united front for the party, which can only help to lengthen our stay in power. But there's a catch: Only grown-ups exhibit discipline.

I have the same view of Conservative bloggers. Was the Emerson appointment questionable? Absolutely. Should it be true believers' alamo? Of course not. This is a cabinet appointment; it's not a big deal.

 
At 5:40 PM, Blogger jeff said...

Peter you really disappoint me. I thought you stood for change. I thought you believed in a New Era of governmental accountability. I see I was mistaken.

Machievellian Conservative, take your place in the Atrocity Exhibition. You disgust me.

 
At 6:29 PM, Blogger Ghost of a flea said...

A small point of clarifiction for the true believers: unless you are employed by the Conservative party I fail to see how a future CPC majority is in your interest. A CPC majority, or the current minority, government is only a good thing in so far as it enacts specific policies with which you agree, embodies specific values you want our government to uphold or at the very least is a least worst option after years of high-handedness and graft. If the party "falls on its sword" because it fails these tests is no tragedy except in so far as one believes it is at least better than renewed Liberal government. I cannot say PMSH's government is worse than than the last thirteen years; the man has yet to take his seat in Parliament as our Prime Minister. But it would have been a better start to avoid breaking three promises seventeen minutes before being sworn in. To those who cannot understand why Damian, Andrew Coyne and others are so frustrated I would like to ask which promises, if any, the new government would have to break before you choose to break ranks? Break ranks with party leadership, that is. It seems to me that so far it is the critics who are keeping faith with the party.

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Discipline is a virtue; it consists of putting off immediate gratification for long-term benefit.

Heh. Peter Rempel is lecturing me about - of all things - discipline.

Hehehehe...that's just plain funny.

 
At 7:29 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

Great post Damian - Janke descended into childish name-calling rather pitifully this morning.

 
At 7:34 PM, Blogger PR said...

"You disgust me."

This might be a sign that you take politics a bit too seriously.

"Heh. Peter Rempel is lecturing me about - of all things - discipline. Hehehehe...that's just plain funny."

So you went to military college. I took piano lessons. Apparently the latter is more effective at instilling the virtue of discipline.

No offense, but this blog is really too much of an echo chamber. I had thought that true "The people, yes!" democrats like you guys would have welcomed disagreement.

 
At 8:20 PM, Blogger GenX at 40 said...

Please enlighten us as to the preferred non-echo-chamber CPC loyalist blogs. Oh, please, oh, please because that would be really funny.

 
At 9:45 PM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

So you went to military college. I took piano lessons. Apparently the latter is more effective at instilling the virtue of discipline.

No offense, but this blog is really too much of an echo chamber.


No offence taken you pompous twit. If you're very lucky, Peter, one day when you grow up, you'll look back on exchanges like this and cringe.

 
At 9:52 PM, Blogger James Bow said...

"If the Liberals are in power in 12 months, then the CPC failed to show Canadians it was a viable alternative."

Exactly. And part of being a viable contender for power in a Parliamentary system is discipline.

More than discipline, it's integrity that makes you a viable contender for power.

It's still early days. Harper could show that he has the integrity that Canadians turned to him for (turning away from the Liberals in the process). But Emerson essentially perpetrated a fraud on the voters of Vancouver Kingsway, in the process showing himself to be the very sort of Liberal Canadians detested. And Harper had no problem accepting him into the cabinet, which again is a very Liberal attribute.

And any true blue Conservative who stuck to their principles and pointed out that Canadians voted for something different, have been derided. Again, a very Liberal reaction.

Isn't it ironic that those who say that this sort of cynical ploy is necessary to keep power, and screw principle, suggest that those who disagree should "return to the Liberal party" when they're acting precisely like the very party they're so ardently interested in defeating?

 
At 2:10 AM, Blogger PR said...

"No offence taken you pompous twit. If you're very lucky, Peter, one day when you grow up, you'll look back on exchanges like this and cringe."

I am grown up, which is why I don't craft arguments on the basis of where I attended university.

The only sin of Janke's I can discern in your post is that he struck a nerve. Actions have consequences, and the actions of you and people like you have done nothing to help the Conservative Party and might have even hurt it. That's a reality that calling me a twit or saying "you disgust me" will not change.

 
At 5:32 AM, Blogger Wonder Woman said...

So Peter, if you believe actions have consequences...why should they not for Stephen Harper?

 
At 9:54 AM, Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I am grown up...

Coulda fooled me, Peter. Most adults I know are past the point where they believe just because they won't admit their mistakes, they didn't make any.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger Paul Kimball said...

This is hilarious. The actions of people like Damian (and so many others, like me, as I too complained about the cabinet postings) are what is hurting the Conservative Party?

Ridiculous.

That's like blaming the mugging victim for an increase in crime stats because he reported his being mugged to the police.

Canadians aren't trained seals (well, maybe Liberal backbenchers are trained seals, but that's a different story). Democracy doesn't just permit dissent -it requires dissent, especially when it's warranted, as is always the case when leaders break their promises to the people who supported them, which is what Harper did here (especially with Fortier, which is why I view that appointment as even worse than Emerson's).

If the CPC suffers as a result, then that's a result of Harper's actions, not the people within the party who criticized him. Compromises always have to be made, but they should be on matters of policy, not principle.

Paul Kimball

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger jeff said...

The sad thing to me is that Peter doesn't even have beach fatigue. He felt this way from the very beginning. Ego does but rarely give way to a complete U-turn in rationality and reason. Mental ownership, thy name is Peter "the Party Hack" Rempel.

 
At 4:50 PM, Blogger PR said...

That's right Jeff. Anyone who disagrees with you must be disgusting or a party hack or whatever other dismissive gesture you can think of at the moment. Thankfully, you're not very imaginative.

 

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