It is amazing that a columnist like Andrew Coyne, a guy that was for a long time remarkably supportive of the HarperCon agenda, could call a Harper convention speech a "a parody of a parody of an empty cliché." This kind of reaction by one of the most important right of centre national pundits to what should be a major speech by a Prime Minister surely sounds the beginning of the end for Stephen Harper's regime. Harper has reached that point once reached by the Liberal Party, that tipping-point where public perception of the government has become overwhelmingly negative and corruption is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of the leader and the government.
But Harper's downfall will be of his own making. Because like so many similar leaders, Harper has little or no ability to adapt to circumstance. He is a one-trick-pony. An actor who can only play one part; the angry, self-righteous, victim of a left-leaning media, nasty opponents, or (and this is a new one) a conspiracy among his own. Harper has no idea how to react to what is wrong because he doesn't even know something is amiss. Harper's similarities to Nixon are numerous and have been often observed. But the most important similarity between the two is not their paranoia or their secrecy, but their narcissism. Just as Nixon believed he was beyond reproach, somewhere deep inside Harper he thinks that, because of his political status, anything he does must be legal and right. Therefore, he can't effectively react to what is wrong because if he is in charge nothing could possibly be wrong, at least concerning his actions. This is the kind of attitude that led to Nixon's famous remark, the affect of which was that nothing he did could have been illegal because he was the president and therefore is actions were always a priori 'legal.'
Harper cannot change tack. He is like a sailor who thinks he is above the wind. But his narcissism doesn't allow him to see that he reached power through an historical chance. He was elected ostensibly because he wasn't leading the Liberal Party. But his pathological conceit has allowed him to slip into the very same kind of arrogant pattern that destroyed the Liberals and brought the former Conservative government to the brink of disappearance.
Thus Andrew Coyne, despite his past support of Harper, is exactly on mark concening Harper's speech last night. Indeed Harper has become a parody of a parody of an old cliché. Harper is a parody of Chretien who was a parody of Mulroney, and his is spouting clichés instead of real political ideas.