, 04.06.2018 07:57 AM

Adler-Kinsella Show: Ontario politics and what the heck is a HOAG?

I’ve written extensively about the highly-scientific HOAG concept, which I will claim to have invented if Bob Chant lets me.

From my book Fight The Right, which wrote about the then-coming Trumpocalypse:

That is, Bush was a Hell Of A Guy. As the political cliché goes, you can picture yourself at a tailgate party with Dubya, swigging Buds, telling lies about the ones that got away. With John Kerry or Al Gore, you just can’t. Eating quiche and sipping spritzers at a rich debutante’s coming-out party at Harvard, maybe. But are they HOAGs?  Nope.

This is not to suggest that Liberals are incapable of HOAGism. Chretien was eating at Tim Horton’s long before focus groups persuaded Stephen Harper to do likewise. Bill Clinton, too, was always a HOAG. Watching him hoover a Big Mac, you wouldn’t have ever guessed he was once a Rhodes Scholar.  But Bush – despite being the son of a New England multimillionaire, despite his pricey Yale education and his connections to American aristocracy – was a true-blue HOAG.  He was the ultimate HOAG, in fact.  He made his inability to string a few words together work for him.  Moreover, when he talked about “values” – which, Google informs us, he did literally hundreds of times during his presidency – he could light up a conservative audience like a Christmas tree.

He was up-front about it, too.  In one of his campaign ads in the summer of 2000, Bush said this: “This is a moment in history when we have a chance to focus on tough problems. It’s not always popular to say…we have a deficit in values. But those are the right things to say. And the right way to make America better for everyone is to be bold and decisive, to unite instead of divide. Now is the time to do the hard things.” On values and morality plays, Bush made his HOAGism work for him.  And when Bush’s presidency came to its constitutionally mandated end, as he defiantly told a crowd at the inauguration of the George W. Bush Presidential Centre, “I came home to Texas with my values intact.”

And that, I think, is why we effete lefties couldn’t stop watching him as he peddled his book hither and yon: on values, he spoke to our suppressed inner HOAGs.

Now, here’s me and Charles:


  1. Houland Wolfe says:

    Geo. W. may be one heck of a guy, but he allowed the warmongers to destabilize the Middle East, creating a refugee crisis, which led to right-wing anti-immigration sentiment in bothEurope and the U.S. Trump may be vying for worst President of the U.S., but Bush Jr. has no claim on statesmanship. Speaking of Easter and resurrections, there is the re-minted older statesman, Brian Mulroney who never met a brown envelope he didn’t like. Ugh. Conservatives.

  2. Gord says:

    Astute observations on the HOAG phenomenon (what some used to call “the common touch”). As someone wise once said, politics is as much about what voters feel in their guts and hearts as what’s in their heads, and if a politician can make voters feel at ease and like he’s “a regular guy like me” that can make a compelling case.

    I think what’s more important, though, than being a HOAG or having the “common touch” is being authentic. People gravitated to the Tim Horton’s-eating Jean Chretien because he *was* the kind of guy to eat at Tim Horton’s. People gravitate to guys like Mike Harris or Gary Doer or Ralph Klein because they genuinely *are* (or were in Klein’s case) the kind of guys who like to toss back a few beers and shoot the breeze, or buy a hot dog for lunch.

    The worst is when a politician tries to look “down-to-earth” or like “just folks” when she or he really *isn’t*. Gord Campbell looked ridiculous in his casual plaid shirts. The patrician Robert Stanfield looked kind of goofy tossing a football around (even if he hadn’t famously fumbled it). Hillary Clinton was widely mocked for putting on blue-collar airs in rural America (swilling beer, affecting a twang).

    Voters are pretty good at ferreting out phonies, so if you’re not a HOAG, don’t pretend to be one and the voters will still respect you. PET never pretended he was anything other than the cerebral philosopher king. Mulroney stuck with his Gucci loafers. Allan Blakeney was happy being the bean-counter and letting Roy Romanow be the salesman.

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