Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rumor Mills and Thought Experiments. . . . .

I think it is interesting that the rumours about Stephen Harper's separation from his wife have finally hit the blogosphere. I heard this rumour quite a while ago from someone here in Ottawa but, despite the fact that this person said it was widely known in media circles, it has gone entirely unreported. I guess that if it is true it has gone unreported because of the simple fact that while there is a de facto separation, only a de jure separation would be something that news directors in Canada would be willing to report given the potential backlash against a reported rumor that the Prime Minister might publicly deny. Very simple observation of the Prime Ministerial couple over the past year or so during their very few public appearances suggests that if they are not de facto separated they have a strangely cold and unresponsive relationship. But really, would anyone in their right mind expect a guy like Stephen Harper to have a warm and affectionate relationship?

Given the strong responses on both sides to the final public outing of this rumor, the whole thing makes an interesting thought experiment. Should we care about such a thing if true? Would it matter to Harper's opponents or, more importantly, to his base?

First, to those who would say that such a thing should in no way be a public or election issue, make no mistake, we know that the current Conservative Party would make it an issue if it were the leader of the opposition were in the same boat. One would have to be hopelessly naive not to understand this. Any party that would create a website with the leader of the opposition being defecated on by a flying Puffin, and attack another for being well educated and teaching at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, would hardly have any moral qualms about making an issue out of the marriage status of a party leader. John Baird and Pierre Poilievre would appear regularly on prime time talking about it, of that there can be little doubt.

Of course, some may object that even if the CPC play rather dirty, that is no excuse for the rest of us to be playing the same game. This is a fair point. The problem with it, however, is two-fold. One, failing to face the CPC with the same tactics that they use has, history has demonstrated, created a fundamental inequity in the political landscape. Unfortunate but true. Second, it is the CPC that has made morality and 'family values' the cornerstone of their politics. If Harper and his wife were in fact separated more than a year ago and if they hid that fact, those, by Harper's own standards are big issues. For more than a generation J. Edgar Hoover, made homosexuality one of the primary targets of his moral crusade. Discovering that he had a long-term homosexual relationship with his assistent surely puts his judgment as well as the legitimacy of his position in considerable doubt. Thus, it must be understood that a coverup of a separation as well as the separation itself are issues in light of Harper's claim to moral superiority.

I don't know for certain whether Harper and his wife are separated, and I don't know whether this, if true, would turn out to be an election issue. One thing is certain, if one carefully observes Harper's body language concerning his wife during their public appearances in the past year or so, their active marriage is a more frightening prospect than their separation. This is true of most of Harper's body language. Any careful observers understand that this is a cold, scheming, deceptive, egomaniacal man who is largely incapable of the most basic human emotions of empathy, compassion, and warmth.


900ft Jesus said...

I agree about the body language and that does matter when considering him as leader of a country. How can anyone so devoid of compassion and empathy be expected to care about all members of society? Or anyone but himself, for that matter, and yet we have this dysfunctional person making decisions that affect all our lives.

As for whether or not the state of his marriage is something the news should cover, I think it's how harper handles the situation that is something voters have the right to know. It tells us something about him we should know - does he lie? Is he fair? Does he use people? Clinton's fall wasn't due to having an affair. Kennedy had plenty. But Clinton lied about it under oath. That should matter to voters, but the affair, unless he abused his position as President, in my opinion is private and the media should stay out of it.

If harper and Laureen split up, none of our business. But if he is still using her as a political prop and to pretend he's a family values guy and wants to shape our laws accordingly, then we have the right to know if he is lying to us and deliberately misrepresenting himself.

Trudeau survived the talk because he said it was no one's business, but he didn't keep waving his wife around to garner popularity politically.

That's my take on it, anyway. I like it that you wrote about this. It's something we should question, the boundaries media should respect, and what we have the right to know.

Anonymous said...

"Any careful observers understand that this is a cold, scheming, deceptive, egomaniacal man who is largely incapable of the most basic human emotions of empathy, compassion, and warmth."
That's where we all go wrong. Oh he is directed by his basics as everyone is. He has just learned to tighten his fists while standing. Body language experts will surely attest to that. When was the last time we saw Harper in a televised leaders debate?

Not for a long, long while.

ck said...

Stepford wives never leave their husbands. They'd be lost.