Sunday, March 22, 2009

Harper's flight forward

The polls are encouraging for the Liberals.  Want proof?  Let us check in with the go-to-guy.  Harper's response seems off kilter.  Rather than temper the actions of his government, things seem to be going off the rails for Harper.  Jason Kenney is layering his refusal to admit George Galloway on top of earlier doofusitudes such as openly criticizing the English and/or French abilities of potential immigrants, appointing a homophobe to the Immigration Refugee Board and cutting off funds to the Canadian Arab Federation.  But Kenney is just following his master's lead.

Rather than step back from the Bizarre Breitkreuz Berreta Bungle, Harper is himself going to speak at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters dinner.  The Regina Mom (sp?) has a good summary of all this and more here.  Even Rick Mercer is ranting on this erratic behaviour.

All this seems to be quite mystifying given the image Harper has cultivated of himself as a strategic thinker.  It would be unlike him to go running off like a right wing Rhode Island Red with its head cut off.  So let us play with this for a bit.  If Harper hasn't lost it then he is following a strategy.  The question then becomes,"What is the strategy?".

The strategy might, at first blush, appear a bit crazy.  After all, the Conservatives seem to be going out of their way to validate every stereotype they have created for themselves.  Homophobic.  Anti-Arab.  Anti-immigrant.  Pro-Gun lobby.  Ant-CBC.  In bed with business.  How do they think this will help them in the incipient election?

This behaviour reminded me of a Billmon post about the US/Iran confrontation in April 2006.  Called The Flight Forward, it outlined how the Bush Administration might have been intentionally ramping up the tension as a way out the mess they had created. To quote from the Whiskey Bar (my emphasis in bold);
What we are witnessing (through rips in the curtain of official secrecy) may be an example of what the Germans call the flucht nach vorne – the "flight forward." This refers to ta situation in which an individual or institution seeks a way out of a crisis by becoming ever more daring and aggressive (or, as the White House propaganda department might put it: "bold") A familar analogy is the gambler in Vegas, who tries to get out of a hole by doubling down on each successive bet.

Classic historical examples of the flucht nach vornes include Napoleon's attempt to break the long stalemate with Britain by invading Russia,the decision of the Deep South slaveholding states to secede from the Union after Lincoln's election, and Milosevic's bid to create a "greater Serbia" after Yugoslavia fell apart.

As these examples suggest, flights forward usually don't end well – just as relatively few gamblers emerge from a doubling-down spree with their shirts still on their backs

Could this be what is behind the madness this week?  Perhaps the Conservative outlook on the polls is worse (for them) than we expect.  Perhaps they have decided that the only chance they have is to get bigger wedges and drive them deeper.

Maybe.  Maybe not.  But at least I was able to quote from Billmon once in my career as a blogger.  And that has to count for something.

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