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.]
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.
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.
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.