Monday, November 05, 2007

A question on Harper and Rove

The column today by Martin Lawrence in the Globe and Mail recounts a luncheon with Ken Dryden in which Dryden crystallised the idea that the Harper government will generally take the political road to win over groups of Canadians at the expense of Canada as a whole.

Lawrence quotes Dryden as saying:
"Politics divides. Government connects." As the leader of the country, "you have to know the difference between the two."
Lawrence then offers his own example of Harper's "recognition" of Quebec as a nation:
If he wanted a case in point, he might have offered Quebec. The Prime Minister's granting of nation status to the Québécois, everyone agreed, was a masterful political stroke - a vote-getter for him among Quebec nationalists, a temporary snookering of Gilles Duceppe's Bloc.

But did it divide or did it connect? Quebec, as some feared, now seems to be taking its cue from Mr. Harper's very liberating words. In keeping with the nation blessing is a burst of exclusionary fervour in the province. Uniculturalism on parade.
In the November issue of Atlantic Monthly, a similar criticism is leveled at President Bush's political alter-ego Karl Rove. One particular example used by the author:
In ways small and large, Rove has long betrayed his lack of understanding of Washington’s institutional subtleties and the effective application of policy, even for the rawest political objectives. The classic example is Rove’s persuading the president in 2002 to impose steep tariffs on foreign steel—a ploy he believed would win over union workers in Rust Belt swing states, ordinarily faithful Democrats, in the next presidential election. This was celebrated as a political masterstroke at the time. But within a year the tariffs were declared illegal by the World Trade Organization and nearly caused a trade war. The uproar precipitated their premature and embarrassing removal.
This was just one case where Rove/Bush would placate one subsection of society after another for the purposes of building a permanent Republican majority in the US. Many more cases are raised in the context is this long and exhaustive argument.

Reading the Rove article and looking at the operations of the Harper government makes me wonder if there's more than a casual connection of themes and operating procedures. Can the the clue to understanding Harper and the operations of his government be found in the thoughts of Karl Rove and his White House record?

No comments: