Monday, February 16, 2009

RU Disappointed?

I am RU and yes I am - disappointed. I am bugged. To understand this, you must know that I liked Harper’s values. I liked the man himself. Candidly, given the alternatives before Christmas between NDP and Liberal, and the possibility that Larry, Curly and Moe would form a coalition, is there any question why I would side with Harper? But now I am irritated. My feelings are exacerbated by my comparison of Harper with the American President which I expressed yesterday.

It’s the fact that Obama and Harper are doing this economic recovery thing so differently from one another. No, it’s more than that. Their governing styles are so different and I appreciate Obama’s approach much more. Here is what is lacking in Harper’s practice in my view. I am not discounting Harper’s work ethic. He is an active politician but at this time in the life of this nation shouldn’t he be speaking to its people about the economy and what we can expect him and his administration to do to fix it. Well he isn’t speaking to us. In fact he isn’t even speaking to the news media. His last press conference on Parliament Hill was held on November 8. Oh, he did talk pithily to news journalists at the conclusion of his January meetings with the premiers. But he is not exactly exuding hope and confidence and the ‘Yes we can’ realism we hear to the south. In the House of Commons as the formal budget debate occurs Harper has not participated except in predictable question period responses. When he ventures outside the House and home, he is doing photo ops, vaguely related to the budget’s provisions for infrastructure spending. He has attended the Quebec Carnival opening and Toronto Chinese New year dinner and New Brunswick hockey tournament. He is shaking hands but not calming shaken spirits of the jobless.

Now if you think I have assessed him unfairly consider this. Obama fired up Air Force One and keeps it on the launch pad for an unprecedented series of public relations campaign in various cities in which he carries on heart to heart and personal conversations with Americans. He does ‘sit down’ interviews with all the TV networks. His recent press conferences were nationally broadcast. He knows how to use the media and be available to the media. His rhetoric is hard-hitting and direct and you can’t miss that he is in this American crisis together with everyone and specially those most affected. His White House website is informative and encouraging. Now his stimulus package has been passed and he is not stepping back an inch from the public forum and therefore no wonder he has a 76% approval rating. You get the feeling with him that this is not merely freshman fervor but a deep commitment he will carry until he has expired his two terms.

Of course the differences between the two national leaders relates to personality and style. One appears approachable and the other appears distant. What I have come to believe is that with Obama it is about power to affect the sweeping changes in the way government works for its people. With Harper now, it may unconsciously be about power to affect his survival in the event of another vote of confidence. What we don’t know is hurting us. Okay I am dismounting this hobby horse and will stay off for a while.

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