Musings —03.06.2012 01:00 AM—
In politics, that Watergate-era aphorism has come to describe a well-established principle: Voters will often forgive the first sin. But they’ll rarely forgive repeated lies about the sin.
The burgeoning Robocon scandal is a classic example of that. Had the Harper regime reacted to the first allegations of vote suppression with calm and clarity, they’d be in better shape right about now. They’d be happier if they had simply said, “We are very concerned about what the media is reporting, and we pledge to co-operate with Elections Canada on their independent investigation.”
Instead, they have adopted Paul Martin’s approach — the infamous “mad as hell” strategy. When Jean Chretien left 24 Sussex, you may recall, the sponsorship mess had been the subject of an RCMP probe for nearly two years — and the Liberal Party of Canada had been polling above 50%. It wasn’t a big deal yet.
But when Martin assumed the post of prime minister, he started shrieking, coast-to-coast, about how he was “mad as hell” about sponsorship. Voters therefore got mad, too — at him. In one extraordinary week, the Liberal party lost 15% support. It never recovered.
Martin blamed “rogue bureaucrats.” His craven, cowardly staff accused Chretien of concealing criminal wrongdoing — off the record, of course. They blamed fellow Liberals. They blamed everyone for the mess. Except themselves, naturally.
History tells us what happened next. A big majority, to a minority, to successive losses — and, now, a rump in the House of Commons. That, among other things, is what happens when you pass the buck.
Stephen Harper and his minions are now attempting to pass the buck, too. In the days since these allegations of election fraud became known, Harper’s gang has closely resembled Martin’s in their attempts to cover up.