Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In tough times, great leaders, including Harper, need to be challenged

Full disclosure: I skipped the Canadian English debate on Thursday night to catch the US Vice-Presidential debate (although, I'm sure I wasn't the only one). Anyway, the debate went along quite smoothly IMO for what was billed as a possible shootout by the mainstream media. As well, I thought both veep candidates showed well enough to claim victory at the end of the day. But aside from that, what struck me as most interesting was Joe Biden's response to the moderator's question regarding what the role of the vice president would be? He said:
With regard to the role of vice president, I had a long talk, as I'm sure the governor did with her principal, in my case with Barack. Let me tell you what Barack asked me to do. I have a history of getting things done in the United States Senate. John McCain would acknowledge that. My record shows that on controversial issues. I would be the point person for the legislative initiatives in the United States Congress for our administration. I would also, when asked if I wanted a portfolio, my response was, no. But Barack Obama indicated to me he wanted me with him to help him govern. So every major decision he'll be making, I'll be sitting in the room to give my best advice. He's president, not me, I'll give my best advice.

And one of the things he said early on when he was choosing, he said he picked someone who had an independent judgment and wouldn't be afraid to tell him if he disagreed. That is sort of my reputation, as you know. I look forward to working with Barack and playing a very constructive role in his presidency, bringing about the kind of change this country needs.

It's interesting that Senator Biden said that "he wouldn't be afraid to tell him [Barack] if he disagreed." Why? Because that's exactly the kind of veep Obama said he was looking for before the caucus season even started back in December. His exact words were:
I want somebody who can be an outstanding president, should something happen to me. I want somebody who’s got integrity and I want somebody who has independence. I want somebody who will tell me when they disagree with me. [...] I don’t like having a lot of ‘yes’ people around me who are just telling me what I want to hear all the time.
I agree wholeheartedly as all great leaders need someone who has the independence and strength to push them out of their comfort zone from time-to-time. That said, with a few pollsters indicating that the Tory numbers are on the decline both nationally and in Quebec/Ontario, has the Prime Minister done himself a disservice by surrounding himself with "yes people", not to mention the fact that he has limited a talented caucus to mere talking points at a time when the country requires him to be challenged? I don't know about you, but I see this as a major problem for him moving forward. Or maybe I'm mistaken, and he does have someone close to him with the gonads to set him straight on both policy and strategy. Anybody willing to give it a shot on just who that particular person may be?

Quick hint: it's not Spector, Brodie, Kinsella or Flannagan. That is for sure.


Rob said...

From what Mlle. Couillard is telling us, M. Bernier has some good advice for the Prime Minister.

All kidding aside, when the CA and the PC parties merged, I think Peter MacKay was tagged for the "advisor" role you're talking about. They certainly represent different wings of the party. I'm not sure how that's working out now, but that was always the impression I had.

bill said...


Where I come from, Amherst, people are not under that impression. They feel Harper is out to get former progressive conservatives, not use them as advisors.

jajakoom said...

I'm not sure Harper sees MacKay as an "advisor". I doubt if he trusts him any more than most former Progressive Conservatives who felt very betrayed when MacKay made his deals at their leadership convention and then mere weeks later, arranged the marriage between the Progressives and the non-Progressives. MacKay showed his true colours then and pretty much wrote his epitaph. The bit about Belinda, the farm and the dog will be mere comedic footnotes.

Howard said...

I can tell you as a Nova Scotian that there are few that trust the golden boy from Pictou county. Not even people that used to be his friend.

Oh, and another thing, there is a rumour going around that he is campaigning against Harper in hopes that he tanks and he is there to clean up the pieces. Not sure Harper would trust a guy like that to advise him?

Anonymous said...

And because of it, he finds himself in trouble against Miss May. Let's just say, people used to like Mackay there when he was trustworthy. Those days are no more.

henry j said...

Mackay could be right about Harper you know.

Which would mean another minority government. Which probably means another election within 12 months, maybe six.

We're almost as bad as the Italians!

allister said...

I was at the debate held at St.FX last night and I'll just say, it appears the tide is changing up here in Pictou county. lots of Green supporters in the crowd.

nuna d. above said...

Bush, Harper, Martin and Dion all surrounded themselves with "yes" men, the gang of cronies who helped them get the leadership of their party. They certainly aren't always the best people for the job.
How many people know Al Gore was calling for Saddam Hussein to be overthrown long before Bush was ever elected? How many people have seen the clip on YouTube of Gore saying Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, nuclear proliferartion and support for terrorism meant he had to be overthrown? How many people know about the book that said Timothy McVeigh visited Irag and met with the Iraqi Guard before his attack in Oklahoma?
And how many Canadians know Chretien did send our troops to Iraq? Why couldn't Harper even mention it in the debate?
Dion shifted ground when he was losing. Can Harper salvage a strong minority? With his "small tent" politics, not likely.

jim said...

"Small tent" politics is right!!

Dan F said...

Tough times?

The Canadian housing bubble, such as it is, hasn't even popped yet...

But you're right - it won't be too long now until the Harpervilles start popping up in greater numbers (see Irving coverage of the Harperville in Fredericton, down by the river).

The title of "Great" should be reserved until long after a politician leaves office; God knows Stephen's buddy George still plans to be remembered in the textbooks as a Churchillian figure.

I'd say it'll be a close run between Brian "bribe me with briefcases full of cash" Mulroney and Steve "The Economist" Harper for worst Canadian PM of the post WW-II era.

Whether he and his backers get their WW-III is up to Canadians at the polls this Autumn.

nbt said...

I'd say it'll be a close run between Brian "bribe me with briefcases full of cash" Mulroney and Steve "The Economist" Harper for worst Canadian PM of the post WW-II era.

I'm surprised Paul Martin, Joe Clark, Kim Campbell and John Turner didn't make the cut?

Anonymous said...

Harper great? I think not.

Canadians should look closely at their vote and get rid of a party that has done nothing but cause turmoil in Canadians lives. A Liberal government with the NDP as the opposition? What a great concept. Would you not agree. The time in the House of Commons that the Conservatives were not even in party status were good times. The electorate need to do that once again and bring back our great country!

Manny said...

In tough times, the first thing to do is to get rid of panicky idiots.