Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Susan (if I only had a brain) Riley for Prime Minister

Susan Riley is one of the anti-American typists employed by the Ottawa Citizen. Based on the drivel she came up with today, I think she may also have ghost written some of the Liberal Party Election adds.

Now she's typing to warn us about the Stephen Harper government ...

Susan Riley, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Three words of advice to Liberals about to embark on a search for a new leader: not another windbag. (good advice for publishers too)

Contrary to received wisdom, the Liberal party does not need to reinvent itself, (the patronage can stay) return to first principles, (honesty is for suckers) or articulate a clear vision (obvuscation has worked for decades). Visions are for saints, mystics and senior managers who, these days, are required to waste countless potentially productive hours drafting "mission" statements -- bland expressions of goodwill and noble intent that are widely circulated and utterly ignored. (When did saints and mystics ever draft mission statements? The one at our office took about five minutes, I don't think she understands what she's typing about.)

The Liberal party doesn't need a "mission" statement, either. It needs to defeat the Harper Conservatives before they inflict serious damage on the economy (create wealth), the nation's social fabric (what the heck does that mean?), international reputation (floaters?) or domestic unity (There isn't any now!). This may inflate the danger: the Conservatives, so far, have been fairly innocuous, although Harper's rhetoric on Afghanistan is sounding increasingly Bush-like, (rhetoric is abstractly worded and logically circular in nature, which statement has Harper made which suits that definition?), and his version of open and accountable government seems to stop at the door of the Prime Minister's Office (no, the third rate Liberal party typists are stopped at his door). But who knows what he might do if he gets his majority? (fear of the unknown - I wish Mr. Martin were still PM, then I wouldn't be as scared)

What Liberals must realize is that Harper is no more likely to defeat himself than he was willing to collude in his own failure in the last election (that sentance is drivel, repeat it a few times). Waiting for him to self-destruct can no longer be the Liberals' main strategy. Yes, the new prime minister has made blunders -- David Emerson (wouldn't that be a former Liberal blunder?), Michael Fortier, behaving as if he won a majority (why is that a blunder?) -- but he is still on probation as far as voters are concerned (66 % approval rating) and early reviews are mixed (Conservatives 33%, Libs 28%). His policies may be out of sync with majority opinion (Conservatives 33%, Libs 28%), his personality may lack "give," (What does that mean? Does my personality lack give? How does one find these things out?)but Harper may also be smarter than anyone else on Parliament Hill (certainly anyone at the Ottawa Citizen). It would be a good idea for the next Liberal leader to acknowledge that, at least privately.

As for the party, it should figure out what kind of leader to run against Harper. Do Liberals want someone warm, personable and down-to-earth: a stark contrast, in other words? (what crap you type, Riley) Or do they want an intelligent, if uncharismatic, dullard with a reputation for accomplishing things (no, they want another sleeze bag flunky from Power Corp., what are you, new?), rather than talking about them -- the non-politician, Harper with a heart? (Harper hasn't got a heart?)The ideal candidate would combine warmth, practicality and integrity, (Harper can't run as a Liberal too, sweetie) but we live in a real world. Nobody's perfect (especially at the Ottawa Citizen anyway).

Even so, personality will count more than vision in this contest. As Stephane Dion (who is expected to join the race) said the other day, this isn't a philosophy course, it is a leadership race. The genius of the Liberal party has always been pragmatism: it finds a balance between right and left and produces a compromise everyone can live with. It needs a salesperson, not a philosopher. (no quotes around any of it, I wonder if she's paraphrasing?)

There have been exceptions: in modern times, Pierre Trudeau and Lester Pearson both left lasting (pock) marks on the country by force of their ideas (What was Lester Pearson's idea? Trudeau's was to sell us down the river to Euroweenie socialism). But that is mostly evident in hindsight. When they governed, they were as guilty of the same sketchy compromises as everyone.

Doesn't matter; we're going to get "vision" whether we want it or not. Michael Ignatieff will be laying out his in a speech this week. The newly minted Liberal MP risks becoming a new windbag for a new time, handicapped as he is by a lifetime in academia and a thick portfolio of published work. He needs to know that the electorate, if not Liberals, is visioned-out after Paul Martin and hungry for substance, not alliterative slogans.

That's why Harper got elected toots - substance.

OK, I'm done here there's another few hundred words, but why bother.

Italics Mine

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