Monday, March 28, 2005

Keeping an eye on the masters

Colby Cosh delivers possibly the greatest Bleeding ever, or at least since the last time he commented on a column by the defenseless Earl McRae.

(And without commenting on the merits of the case, per my previous post, I would have to agree with the concluding sentence of his previous Schiavo post: "The husband looks better every day here in contrast to the family: frankly, at this point, he arguably comes off relatively all right even if you accept that he's committing a self-interested murder by omission.")

As well, Andrew Coyne comes back at his critics with a searingly intelligent column. Not sure what my favourite part was. I liked the beginning:
Wednesday’s column elicited a number of kind responses from wise old heads wishing me a pleasant visit on Planet Earth. Yes, yes, yes, was the gist: of course, in a perfect world the Conservatives would tell the public just exactly what the Liberals were doing wrong and what they would do differently. They would start with certain ideas they wished to see put into effect, then try to persuade the public to let them form a government to that end -- rather than having a vague sense they would like to be in government, and foraging for whatever ideas would take them there.

But that’s not how the real world works, they would go on.

I also liked this point:
What is advertised as “moderation” is more often one of two things: either a numb instinct for the status quo, on the theory that whatever is new or different must inevitably be worse, or else a simple preference for one point of view over another, which the speaker hopes to place beyond dispute. Differences of opinion, after all, are something that occur between reasonable people: whereas immoderation is suggestive of a character flaw.

But I think this part was the best, because it's bloody well observably true:
So yes, the Tories have to present their arguments in sober, thoughtful terms, and yes, they should pay due heed to the constraints of practicability. But that is not the same as abandoning the battle before it’s begun. A clear position, resolutely defended, is as important to political success as a prudent sense of the possible. Do I even need to cite the examples? Of Reagan, Thatcher, and Bush? Of Mulroney in 1988 versus Campbell in 1993? Of Harris in 1995 versus Eves in 2003? In politics, as in business, the biggest rewards go to the entrepreneur -- who offers the public, not what it already knows it wants, but what had never occurred to it to want until now.

All unrelated victories, no doubt. But actually, if you remain a critic (i.e. believe that the CPC convention was all that and a stack of bumper stickers), this is the graf you should need to counter to satisfy folks like me:
To be sure, a party must seek to address the real needs of the electorate, rather than simply riding its own ideological hobbyhorses. But that does not mean the solutions it proposes to these concerns must be limited to whatever is already popular or familiar -- for if the status quo were sufficient, they would not still be concerns. Nor does the imperative of addressing the voters’ needs preclude the possibility that some items, as yet not on the public’s agenda, may still be added to it -- and that it is part of a political party’s responsibility to do so. The task of government, John F. Kennedy said, was “to set before the people the great unfinished business of the nation.” The unfinished business, not the conventional wisdom.

If this was a podcast, you'd be hearing me saying "Testify!" in the background.

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