Thursday, November 06, 2008

After a dozen Bush=Harper commercials last election...


...Stephen Harper has every reason to be excited about Barack Obama's victory.

And now, for the first time in a long time, being seen as close to the Americans may actually be a political asset, rather than a liability. If you ditch relativism out the window, Stephen Harper and Barack Obama probably line up fairly well policy-wise. So what better way to shield yourself against criticism at home on issues like the environment and foreign policy, than to be seen as lining up with the most popular politician in Canada right now?

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19 Comments:

  • Wow.

    Great point.

    Will this make Harper look good or Obama look bad?

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 6:12 PM  

  • That's an aspect of the whole approximate policy equivalence thing I hadn't thought of until today. Bleagh, bleagh, bleagh.

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 6:14 PM  

  • Yep, I've been saying it for months. Obama is actually probably to the right of Harper on more issues. But that probably isn't so much their personal opinion as their pragmatism has dictated.

    By Blogger hatrock, at 6:57 PM  

  • Yep, I've been saying it for months. Obama is actually probably to the right of Harper on more issues. But that probably isn't so much their personal opinion as their pragmatism has dictated.

    By Blogger hatrock, at 6:57 PM  

  • Totally off topic - Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is Tweeting at Twitter.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:29 PM  

  • Harper dropped the ball on most Foreign Affairs issues during his last tenure.

    We are no longer a country that proposes ideas, the Harper government only comments on others propositions, often choosing the least change, except on social issues contrary to most progressives.

    That tells me they have no ideas, just knee-jerk reactions, depending on their "reading" of the Canadian electorate.

    What was that about Leadership again?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:56 PM  

  • Just like wanting to be friends with the popular kids in school.

    By Blogger sassy, at 8:23 PM  

  • Anonymous,

    The Liberals had ideas? We Americans either

    A: Didn't notice you

    B: Uh...see A. Though there's bound to be an American who either sees Canada as French (Iraq!) or...uh, nothing else. Don't think Harper is getting rewarded at all for anything he's...he's...

    What did he do again? Any more than Martin, which was just the Missile shield thingamajiggerthatwasn'tgoingtowork?

    Oh right! EU-Canada trade agreement!

    And hopefully preventing any change in NAFTA. Who's the leftie?

    By Blogger The Internationalist, at 10:54 PM  

  • On a personal belief level, I highly doubt Barack Obama and Stephen Harper share much in common. Harper himself compared the Reform Party to conservative Republicans in his much discussed 1997 speech here:

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20051213/elxn_harper_speech_text_051214/20051214/

    This is a man who headed an organization founded to oppose medicare, leads a party full of anti-abortion, anti-gun control homophobes, and wanted Canada shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. in Iraq. His expressed wish is to make Canada a more conservative nation. He's done a good job at keeping the Conservative party disciplined enough to win minority governments by muzzling the more extreme elements of the party, but I refuse to believe that Harper, Day, Anders, Gallant et al would be moderate Democrats in the U.S. Maybe some like Prentice or MacKay, but not the majority of them.

    By Blogger Goldenhawk, at 10:58 PM  

  • Thank you, Goldenhawk, I've been waiting for someone else to realize the obvious.

    While the spin they'd like you to believe is that Harper conservatives are really more like Democrats, the reality is quite different.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 12:31 AM  

  • For the side that won, some Canadian Obama supporters have been awfully grouchy these last couple days.

    I guess when the tattered shreds of an intellectually bankrupt scare tactic you've been relying on for six years are finally flushed down the toilet, it must be frustrating.

    Personally, I suspect that Harper was strongly hoping for an Obama victory. Now he'll finally be able to develop a professional and productive working relationship with our closest neighbour, without having to worry about being accused of being an evil American sellout etc etc.

    It's a good time to be Canadian.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 3:19 AM  

  • There is no downside to an Obama presidency for Harper. It can only help him and I suspect it will. While I tend to support the centre-left in Canada, on this issue I hope Harper is successful and frankly the Liberals and NDP should be rooting for success as well. A unique opportunity exists, imho, to build relations between the two countries that we haven't seen in quite a while.

    By Anonymous rob c, at 8:01 AM  

  • Obama would make a good Reform MP for Alberta: pro death penalty, anti-Kyoto, invoking God's name in public speeches, against same-sex marriage, military response to Afghanistan. And now naming a right wing former Israeli soldier who was the most pro-Iraq war supporter in the Democratic party as his first staff pick.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 1:21 PM  

  • It's a bit much to equate Harper and Obama.

    Even a cursory reading of Audacity of Hope shows that Obama considers himself a progressive in the liberal tradition; Harper is notorious for his near-outright loathing of liberalism. And much of his policy prescriptions sound more like Liberals than Conservatives, especially when you consider the social conservative base that brought Harper to power as Conservative/Alliance leader in the first place.

    Combine that with the necessity of incremental change on both sides (Harper in regressing Canada, Obama in progressing America) and you have an explanation for their positions that doesn't put you in the absurd position of trying to paint Obama as the kind of person that could run the National Citizen's Coalition and call Canada a socialist backwater.

    Yes, it's very popular to equate Canadian Conservatives and American Democrats. But that does a disservice to the entire spectrum of progressives who support Obama and whose support he needs. It also does a disservice to American public opinion, which is actually decidedly to the left of Washington's current "center", and probably to Harper as well.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 1:30 PM  

  • (Think about it this way. If Canada didn't have universal health insurance, would Stephen Harper introduce it? No? Well there you go.)

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 1:30 PM  

  • (And as long as I'm spamming this site, wouldn't Obama have little interest in a "close working relationship" with Harper after the stunt that his people pulled during the primary, "invisible hand"?)

    (And isn't a massive rejection of conservative ideology in America sort of a problem for a Conservative in Canada who called the Republicans his "guiding light"?)

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 1:33 PM  

  • Actually, no. There's very few similarities with our Conservative Party and the Democrats. The Conservatives have far more in common with the Republicans - much of Obama's ideology is right up there with Jack Layton.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:57 PM  

  • Yes, Nuna, President-elect Obama would make a great Reform MP. I remember many times Grant Hill would advocate for raising the minimum wage. All those times Myron Thompson would vote for equal pay for women. Oh, and remember how Harper and Manning always wanted judges who would protect abortion rights on the Supreme Court? Yeah, I always thought they'd get along well with Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi.

    By Blogger Goldenhawk, at 10:43 PM  

  • (And as long as I'm spamming this site, wouldn't Obama have little interest in a "close working relationship" with Harper after the stunt that his people pulled during the primary, "invisible hand"?)

    First off, I said "professional and productive", not "close".

    But you're right, Demo. Harper clearly tried to sabotage Obama's campaign by letting everyone know that he was lying about NAFTA. That's why Harper's chief of staff told all the reporters within earshot that Hillary was the one who was lying.

    Like I said, surprisingly grouchy.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 1:24 AM  

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