Monday, November 22, 2004

Wide Right

Paul Wells has some interesting points on the PM's L-20 idea and why it's incredibly useless. Sure enough, Sheamus Murphy, a former Martin stoodge from Edmonton, writes back defending the big guy's idea. I'm only linking to this because it's incredibly funny how Sheamus misses the point. In one point, he comments on how "Politics keeps leaders from coming to conclusions at traditional meetings" and then goes on to discuss all the great things which will be accomplished by the L-20...Seemingly without regard for politics. Sheamus also serves up this nugget of wisdom:

I like your rationale: it's never worked before, so let's never tryit again. You should try that one with Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. orNelson Mandela.

I'd say the fact that it's never worked before is reason enough to not try the exact same thing again. Like, if someone told Martin Luther King "Listen, bringing together twenty black community leaders to discuss the issues of the day has never got us anywhere, maybe you should try something different like a bus boycott or a speech", then I'd hope MLK would listen to them.

Mind you, the fact that alienating half your party once you become leader, going into an election fresh off a scandal, running away from a winning record, bringing former separatists into cabinet, and asymmetrical federalism have all failed before and Paul's determined to give them a second go-round so I can see where Sheamus is coming from. And he may have a point. After all, avoiding policy talk during an election has never worked before but it's going to get Ralph Klein a massive majority tomorrow.

4 Comments:

  • Dr. Mitschke, I presume? Well, CalgaryGrit, I've never been called a "Martin stoodge" before. I thought I was just a grit, like I was when it was Chretien and like I would be if it was Manley at the helm. Its not like I've ever ground axes with Manley folk; I actually like you guys.

    Anyway. I think YOU miss the point. The idea of the L-20 is that it would be a forum for discussion, with no set agendas. That's where the politics has come in before, and where the process breaks down. Any given governmental machine has a position that it wants, and a line that it won't cross. Again I point to the example of agricultural subsidies. Underdeveloped countries want fair trade, and developed countries want to keep their agricultural producers happy, even if it means allowing hundreds of tons of excess product to rot (like in France) if that is what is needed to keep prices inflated, while farmers still get their pay. Now I don't have an axe to grind with farmers, I love them and we need them to be profitable. But the question of how to solve this huge discrepancy is never broached at the WTO, or the G-8, or the UN. Why? Because the issues presented to the world leaders in these forums come up through a regimented, bureaucratic process. Each country has its goals and bottom line, and if they can't be met, then the process falls apart. What Martin is proposing, if I understand it correctly, is a meeting where world leaders can get beyond this, where they could blue sky about how to get past these impasses, and speculate as to what steps would have to be taken, and what the cost would be for each of those steps. There would be horse-trading, and all of the rest of it, and there is no guarantee it would work, but it would be extremely different from what has occurred before. In fact its so simple I can't believe it hasn't been tried. Another example I raised in my angrily hashed out, poorly written post: Chretien at the G-8 with the Africa agenda. He had high hopes but only got lip service. Africa paled in comparison to the war on terror in terms of the importance placed on it by those present. Yet if you think of it, what is at the base of the war on terror? Failed states. Bin Laden was based in Sudan for years while they had a huge child slavery problem in the Christian south. If you can solve failed states, you can stop suffering from AIDS, you can stop civil wars and genocide, you can prevent terrorism. But the G-8 doesn't allow you to look beyond the end of your nose.

    Now I see that you're still whipping Martin at the end of this post according to my logic. But really, can't we get over this? I know you're mad at various meanies within the party, some of whom are jerks; but you're still a grit, and isn't it the case that things have turned around? Sure Martin inherited a huge scandal, and that dragged big time into the election, but do you really think that he could have just brushed it aside? Never. And now do you really think that the scandal isn't well on its way to being cleaned up at this point, that the worst is behind us? As for the election, it was running hugely on solid policy at the start and going on the attack at the end (privatizing healthcare, etc.) that won it, whereas the Conservatives couldn't cash in on the scandal or the McGuinty budget because they hid their policy and went on the attack too much (child porn). Sorry but running on the old record doesn't cut it - people only care about the future - I know this from the doors. Since then, Martin has tackled health and equalization - neither result is perfect but its brought us a long way. I especially disagree with you on asymmetrical federalism - have you ever lived in Quebec? Asymmetrical federalism isn't a fancy idea, its a fact of life - immigration, education, the voluntary sector, etc. And don't exaggerate, CalgaryGrit - half of the party isn't alienated. If the rough patch is behind us, and with the recent accomplishments I think it is, everyone is warming up to Martin again, like they were warm to him before. It takes a while for a new government to get its feet and while no transition is seamless, that footing is being found. It hasn't even been six months.

    As for MLK, it's the cynics of the world that were his real enemy - within his own movement. Gandhi was killed by a hindu fundamentalist. Now Paul Martin is no MLK or Gandhi. However if you're just hoping and praying that he fails, because you hate him so much, how does that make you any better than a cynic like Paul Wells, who can't recognize a good idea with the potential to help millions staring him right in the face? In fact he is so cyncial that he would go out of his way to rationalize taking that idea down, aligning himself with George W. Bush - although Bush doesn't like the L-20 because it could challenge US hegemony and exceptionalism, whereas Wells doesn't like it... why? Because he doesn't want to help the world? Or because it's really that stupid of an idea? I think its because he hates Paul Martin so much that he'd rather see him fail than succeed.

    Thank God I don't make my living by mocking the failures of people with noble goals, no matter how naive those people might be. Because its not practitioners of mockery who make any meaningful difference whatsoever.

    By Blogger Sheamus Murphy, at 12:28 AM  

  • Mea Culpa.

    Apparently my guess as to who CalgaryGrit really is was incorrect. It was only a guess. I apologize for any insinuation connecting this guessed at identity with my statement or the site as a whole. However I don't retract my overall statements; they are directed at CalgaryGrit.

    One more thing. I like Paul Wells, his column and his site, when he chooses to be constructive. I check it all the time, and learn from it. He does make a difference when he points out problems needing attention, as he did recently regarding university research. But c'mon people, enough vitriol.

    By Blogger Sheamus Murphy, at 1:39 PM  

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