Dr. Dawg

The Hair Apparent Chronicles: epilogue, with sour notes

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sunset handlers.jpg
It’s the day after #Lib2014 came to an end, and I feel strangely unfulfilled, but I’m not a Liberal, so there you go. Some closing commentary is called for: here are three highlights of the Convention that for me sum it all up.

1. The Obama factor

From the keynote opener by Larry Summers to the slogan “Hope and Hard Work” to the ubiquitous presence of Obama organizers, the Convention was rather too obviously looking south for ideas, both organizational and ideological. For those observers who, like myself, have become disillusioned with the Obama brand (hello drones, Gitmo, Wall Street bankster bailouts and Orwellian mass surveillance) if we ever harboured illusions in the first place, this is or should be a source of concern. Just as the Harper Conservatives seem to get all their worst ideas from Republicans—think voter suppression legislation, dirty tricks at the polls and minimum jail terms—Liberals tend to look to establishment Democrats for answers. But progressive Americans have had a bellyful by now of vain hope and very little change. Is it provincial on my part to suggest that we develop made-in-Canada solutions to our Canadian problems?

2. Andrew Leslie

Leslie is an engaging and charismatic fellow who gave a polished performance on stage, backhanding the Conservatives for their recent character assassination attempts and, with considerable authority, hammering them for their bumbling military procurement policies. I did find scenes from The Last Samurai flitting through my mind, though, watching this seasoned, battled-hardened ronin pledge his undying loyalty to the boy emperor. His natural gravitas makes for frankly cringeworthy comparisons. But then he fell apart in a post-speech scrum, and if you don’t believe me, listen to it yourself. There was plenty for the media to chew on, and chew they did: his handsome $72K allowance to move across town would be up for discussion, and also—thanks to well-timed leaks from the general direction of the PMO—his support for the Liberal party was starting to look skin-deep. So why not just say he’d been looking for a high-level job in public service and talked to Conservative officials about it because they’re the folks in charge? It’s not as though he was looking for a job in their policy shop, after all. But instead, having obviously been issued a paltry script by Liberal handlers and told to run with it, he quickly became evasive and defensive—not a good posture for a well-decorated former general, let alone a rising star in the Trudeau firmament.

3. Trudeau decamps

Perhaps taking a lesson from this appalling performance, Justin avoided the media at Convention and ducked out on the last day without hosting the traditional presser. He might have been fast on his feet when he decked Patrick Brazeau, but not so much in the verbal clinches, for which he generally prefers to rehearse, as did his father before him. Without having lines, he’s made some notable gaffes—think of his off-the-cuff comments on Chinese governance, for example. Nevertheless, one has to ask what his advisors were thinking. What did they imagine the reaction of the media would be to this frankly unprofessional cutting and running? How can the Liberals look Canada in the eye and complain about Harper’s aloofness from the media now? In any case, it’s just forestalling the inevitable: at some point, Trudeau is going to have to show himself, the person behind the scripts, and spontaneously engage. He’ll stand or he’ll fall on that, but so far, I would suggest, he’s given his supporters serious cause for worry.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on February 24, 2014 12:42 PM.

The Hair Apparent Chronicles: the policy swamp was the previous entry in this blog.

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