Thursday, February 19, 2009
Did Harper learn any lessons at Obama's political knee ?
So Superstar Obama has just taken off. While in Ottawa, "hermit" Harper tried to sequester Obama from the public and all but a few chosen politicians. Harper wanted to celebrate the President's trip here all by himself trying to minimize his exposure to the Canadian people while maximizing his own exposure with Obama. He even had Obama meet with the Governor General and the Opposition Leader at the airport rather than in the Parliament Buildings...perhaps over the lunch held in the Senate Speakers Dining Hall.
"Real" politician, Obama, however, asked Harper if he minded if he waved to the crowd once he arrived at Parliament Hill. Harper acquiesed and followed Obama's lead in acknowledging the people...the real purpose of being for a politician. And then, of course, the President detoured his entourage through the Byward Market to sample a famous "Beavertail". Could you imagine Harper doing this?
So why would Harper want to script Obama's visit here as tightly as he scripts his own interaction with the Canadian Press and the Canadian People? It's just one more proof that Harper is a "control-freak" one-man show.
In the TV coverage, however, it was obvious that Obama was the superstar politician while Harper looked like a little puppy at the master's political knee. Obama comes across as thoughtful, honest, open, and sincere while Harper acts, talks, and looks scripted. The President was even able to call press conference questioners by their names whereas Harper didn't seem at all interested in relating to them in any kind of warm or friendly way. Of course, he always tries to keep his distance from the press unless he has total control over the questions and the interaction.
Harper did seem to make a major turnaround over the environmental carbon footprint. While he bad-mouthed Dion's poorly sold "Green Shift" during the election saying it was a tax increase on everything, he now seems to have come "full-circle" on the importance of limiting carbon emissions with his signing of a "Clean Energy Agreement with the President. Too bad he didn't "come clean" over the importance of this issue during the election. This was blatant dishonesty with the Canadian people combined with "scare tactics". If Harper didn't agree with Dion's plan, he should have at least acknowledged the importance of the issue and proposed his alternative solution.
Hopefully, this meeting with President Obama is close to the end of the road for Harper's and his flight into the limelight.
To survive as a politician in the future, hopefully voters will be looking to cast their votes for more "Obama-like" politicians. To that end, Harper, if he hopes to survive, will have to cast aside his evangelical right wing dogmas which attempts to destroy opposition rather than involving or listening to them.