Well played, you baby-noshing election-stealing dead-eyed bastard, well played indeed.
I'm sometimes accused of being cynical about politics or seeing conspiracies where none exist and, up to a point, I will admit this is sometimes true. It is an occupational hazard for journalists and politics watchers. Sometime rather than reacting to the crisis or issue or outrage du jour, I like to take a broader view and look at how various events and actions interrelate and examine things on a purely tactical level.
And from a purely tactical point of view, I have to hand it to Stephen Harper and his communications brain trust this week for this.
By Giuseppe Valiante ,QMI Agency
MONTREAL - Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced funding for an education campaign against so-called honour killings on Friday but dismissed the idea of hanging honour killers.
Harper said the federal government will give $348,150 to the Shield of Athena Family Service, a Montreal-based women's organization.
Announcing the funding in Montreal is symbolic: The city was home to Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya and son Hamed, who earlier this year were sentenced to life in prison for the 2009 drowning of sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, as well as Mohammad Shafia's other wife, Rona Amir.
From a tactical point of view, this was a brilliant move. The government has been taking it on the chin over their voter suppression efforts and their usual rote repetition of "the Liberals did it first/too," "Scandal? What scandal?" and "We didn't do anything, nobody saw us and besides you can't prove anything" doesn't seem to be getting much traction, Michael Sona is refusing to stay under the bus and more dots are being connected and more damning information keeps coming out.
Harper and his inner circles of advisors seem to realize they have tripped over their collective dicks and no amount of Dean Del Mastro haplessly obfuscating on Power and Politics is going to unfuck that particular goat.
In addition, the effort to appease their social conservative base via Kitchener MP Stephen Woodworth's attempt to reopen the abortion debate without reopening the abortion debate is going over about as well as a fart in church. The pro-forced birth "abortion is the same as murdering babies" crowd don't want to pussyfoot around the topic and are getting annoyed that the CPC isn't delivering on what they want. A sizable majority of women (and the men who love them) - even those who don't think of themselves as feminists - already stirred up by the Rush Limbaugh "slut-gate" episode down south, have been treating Woodworth's whole premise as the pile of crap it is and are pulling no punches, taking to social media in droves to vent their outrage.
The knuckledragger base are tired of high-fiving over getting rid of the long-gun registry and the Shafia conviction and want fresh red meat. Even conservative loyalists are having a hard time defending the government on the voter suppression issue. When the CPC loses the sensible media conservatives like Andrew Coyne, you know the ship is taking on water.
And on Thursday, the government had to admit that maybe, just maybe, they might have made an error in committing to the F-35 since it is going to cost twice what they said it would if it ever gets airborne in the first place.
Clearly, action was needed, a distraction had to be found.
And so Stephen Harper emerged on Friday with a tactically perfect speech.
It lets the knuckledraggers and Good Germans in the base get back into a lather about evil swarthy Muslim foreigners and crime. It lets the PM flex his "tough on crime" muscles. It lets Harper pose as a defender of oppressed women. He even managed to throw in the "of course we wouldn't dream of reopening the debate on capital punishment" bit of nudge-nudge-wink-wink.
Since he has delegated the public spinning and partisan House of Commons hackery in defense of voter suppression and election cheating to Del Mastro, giving this speech also allows Harper to try and show how Prime Ministerial and dignified he is, rising above partisanship and striding the high moral ground.
And woe betide any nay sayers - if you accuse the PM of simply trying to distract attention from the voter suppression scandal, you are comparing murdered young women to 'shiny objects' and are clearly a monster who hates women and loves terrorists, criminals and isn't a serious person concerned about a serious issue like philosopher-saint-poet-warrior-and-defender-of-civilization Stephen Harper.
Only a terrible, awful mean-spirited person like a Liberal would be so cynical as to think this speech was anything but the proud, brave wonderful Stephen Harper talking seriously about a serious issue of grave seriousness that is a terrible, terrible problem in her majesty's dominion. St. Stephen the Wise and Powerful would never ever politicize the deaths of these young women, that's the kind of thing horrible leftists would do.
If you commies can't even admit that honor killings are a terrible problem in Canada then you probably hate justice almost as much as you hate the troops, babies and kittens. Shame on you all and no, the Prime Minister will not be taking questions or reopening the debate on capital punishment, we are too busy not reopening the debate on abortion right now.
Nope, from a tactical point of view, that speech was brilliant and bulletproof.
With the voter suppression scandal snowballing, and curtain being pulled back on the CPC's fraud and sabotage, some are saying that this is Harper's Watergate. Some are comparing him to Richard Nixon. They are not wrong. I won't be surprised if a secret CPC memo (or clandestine tape recording) surfaces one day referring to the four Shafia women collectively as "Checkers."
Because to Stephen Harper and the CPC brain trust politics is war by other means and winning is all that matters. This is all just tactics.
In the long run, they know that the so-called robo-call scandal will eventually play out to their benefit as long as they can make sure the mud gets sprayed around on their opponents, too. The more people who throw their hands up and turn their backs on politics in disgust, the better the CPC likes it. Now they don't even have to call them to tell them where their polling station has been shifted, because they don't want any part of voting anymore. As long as there is a solid, unstable mass of hardcore knuckledraggers who will come to the polls for when the conservative throw them a few hateful bones, Harper and his happy band of fascist wannabes are delighted if they can turn everyone else off of politics.
Morality, ethics, and respect for the dead? A sense of shame? Respect for democracy and the rule of law? Those are for losers, you silly dirty hippie.
But then, I'm sometimes accused of being cynical.