Saturday, May 05, 2007
People need to learn that politics is politics
Every so often you get people who enter the political ring who say they're different because they speak candidly about the issues. These people usually end up leaving politics or changing their tunes quite quickly.
We've seen it south of the border with GOP presidential candidate John McCain. Once known as leading the "Straight Talk Express", in part because he was cozy to journalists keen on developing a relationship with a Republican-bashing Republican, McCain has now learned the art of communications discipline, party solidarity, and maintaining some distance with the fourth estate. In other words, he's learned to be a politician.
We've seen it recently north of the border with Liberal leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff. He and his supporters were proud of his penchant to "tell it like it is" and "do things differently". However, in the end, it became a chronic example of foot-in-mouth disease which was probably one factor in his inability to capture the Liberal crown. As deputy leader of the party, he's now sticking to script. In other words, he's learned to be a politician.
Now comes along Green leader Elizabeth May, who also prides herself on engaging in a different kind of politics. From today's Ottawa Sun:
Well, that same candidness has her in some trouble over drawing comparisons between Harper's policies and the appeasement of Nazis. She kind of apologized after days of public pressure. What remains to be seen with May is if she has the discipline, wisdom, and smarts to learn that, in politics, you simply cannot say whatever you want. Why? Well, because it's politics. In other words, does she want to be a politician or not?
Those who know her say May straddles the political spectrum with a candidness that is bound to draw more flak.
"Elizabeth says what she thinks," said Stephen Hazell, a longtime friend and former colleague at the Sierra Club. "She is quite candid and sometimes those remarks can be taken out of context, and sometimes deliberately so."
Politics is the art of drawing broader support for you, your party, and your ideas. You do it by essentially being as nice to many people as possible, while engaging in strategic attacks on your opponents. In many ways, it's a game — the rules for which have been sharpened and honed for many generations.
It's not surprising that people come along and try to change those rules. However, I suppose that what is surprising is the shock on these same people's faces when they try to do it. It's called politics for a reason. When you stop being political, you better have a good reason, and you better be ready to face the consequences.
Otherwise, you spend days having to kind of apologize for a remark you never should have made in the first place. Whether or not May learns from this lesson is something yet to be determined.
She's lucky. If she was a conservative, her political obituary would have already been written. As a leftist, she gets a second chance from the media. Let's see what she makes of it.
Spot on. This double-standard seems endemic, but it's nice to see someone take note of it.
I would add that it's stupid and unacceptable to compare Conservative policy to Nazis or Nazi-appeasers at any time - whether as a politician or a private citizen. People need to be called on this b.s.
And oh, joy, soon summer and the truly silly season will be upon us. May should be interesting to watch.
Dion admitted he couldn't make the environment a "priority" when he was in the Martin government cabinet while GHGs were skyrocketing?
What behind the scenes deal do Dion and May have, other than May slagging Harper and trumpeting for Dion as the next prime minister of Canada?
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