Going To The Wells - But Not Once Too Often

{I'm going to talk about a column I liked by Paul Wells, which you can read on-line, but there is a point that I (hopefully) will get to afterwards - just in case you think this post is only a "MSM (ugh) love-in".}

I've heard people call Paul Wells a closet (or not-so-closet) Liberal ever since he was writing columns for the National Post. I'm sure he's heard it for even longer.

For all I know, he could be as Liberal as Wilfred Laurier - or, on the other hand, he could be as Liberal as Jean Lapierre. But I think he writes well, even when he's schooling Harper, the Conservatives, or anyone else I'm voting for.

But in this case, the victim is Paul Martin, and does PM Jr. ever get his. You should read the whole thing, but here's the money quote, describing Paul M on a radio talk-show in St John's (my old home town!) on a rainy day. The host had gotten on his case regarding the closure of the weather office in Gander, NL and the PM, seemingly out of nowhere, tossed out the idea of a climate-study institute. Paul Wells's response:

It was hard to shake the hunch that Martin had taken off on weather because it was raining. It was hard to shake the hunch that if Martin had been serenaded by a barbershop quartet that morning, he would be calling for an international centre of excellence on four-part harmony.

Heh. It goes on from there.

My point, beyond what seems to be an annoying kiss-up to a columnist (hey, you don't like it? tough - I happened to enjoy the column) is that Wells is focusing on something the Tories and others should be pointing out: Martin will fix upon any cause, on any project, on seemingly on any promise, to satisfy the audience he plans to be speaking to at that moment. As his problems with Danny Williams and John Hamm after the last election showed, that isn't always good for stable, long-term public policy.

The Paul Martin of the mid-90's, who vowed to stay the course and slay the deficit come hell or high water, and who resisted (for good or for ill) the calls for spending in any number of areas because he wanted to solve the big problem first - seems to have gone fishing. I don't know if he's coming back.

Harper and Layton should contrast this approach with their measured approach (ok, relatively measured approach - it is an election campaign, after all, and even if we want sainthood, I don't expect we'll get it) of a policy plank per day. What they should not do is simply say "me too" and chase Paul Martin around the country with a cheque book. Even if the polls aren't shifting right now, I think it's important that Harper - and Layton - stick with the programme and not start pitching themselves as the immediate, all-at-once answer to every single problem. Beacuse eventually, that will catch up with PM the PM, and with Harper and Layton if they play along.

More later.


At 11:13 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Paul Wells is a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party.

But I thnk he generally views conservatives as below him more so than he views Liberals below him.

I also think his criticisms of Martin are more marked than other MSM columnists because of personal animosity with Martin's inner circle.

Not that other people don't have similar problems with Martin's people, just Paul doesn't strike me as the type to put up with that crap.

At 3:42 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

The man is a witty, well researched writer. I doubt he'd deny being Liberal-leaning but that hardly makes him a Liberal booster. He's a columnist, so entitled to be opinionated. Best of all, though, he does a fantastic job of skewering PM PM!


p.s. Jason, I just happened upon your blog today. I honestly haven't heard your name since your days at the helm of the UBC Young Conservatives - happy to see you're still kicking around in the right circles!

At 4:33 p.m., Blogger Jason Hickman said...

Thanks, Anon & Jason.

And Jason, I'd return the good wishes, but I'm not sure which "Jason" you are!

Ah, the memories of my time with the UBC Young Conservatives ... nothing like being a federal PC Party supporter in BC in the aftermath of the '93 election to stiffen one's spine and thicken one's skin!


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