Thursday, October 31, 2013

Joe Clark to Harper: tell the whole story to Canadians

Headlines may sell papers, but rarely disclose the whole picture.
We have become so accustomed to "tweets" of 140 characters, that our conversations, and our perceptions bounce from tweet-to-tweet, without pausing to reflect on much more than the "rush" of the moment.
We are, addicted to the "rush" of anything that smacks of scandal, poor judgement by others (never by ourselves) and misfortunes of others, especially of their own making.
In our over-painting the canvas of our world view with blotches of "red paint" as accountants would do with red ink on financial messes, we have obliterated space for, and thereby consideration of our part in whatever drama is unfolding.
Children jump from abandoned construction towers, following the persistent taunting and indeed bullying of classmates who told her she should die because no one liked her. Some political leaders, when asked for the name of a single "responsible" person, for some government debacle, as was Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius yesterday in a hearing in the Tea Party controlled House of Representatives, responded, "I am responsible for the mistakes in the roll-out of Obama care." Her expression of responsibility was echoed shortly by the president in Faneuil Hall in Boston where, not incidentally, then Governor Romney had signed the Massachusetts health care bill when he  declared, "I take full responsibility for the problems in the roll out of Obamacare."
On the other side of the 49th parallel, in Canada, when Harper is asked pointed and direct questions about his participation in the Senate debacle, he twists, squirms, dodges and attacks others, including Senator Duffy, former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, and most recently, Leader of the Opposition, Tom Mulcair.
Clearly, when everyone can see his fingerprints, indeed footprints, all over this mess, he would like Canadians to believe that he was blind-sided by his own people.
It was former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Joe Clark, in an interview with Peter Mansbridge of CBC's One-on-One, who clearly and delicately told Harper to "tell the whole story" to Canadians, given the fact that all of the principals in the story are Harper appointees. Clark, a decent, honest and honourable, if somewhat prone to public ridicule for mistaking his "numbers" on a critical vote in the Commons, and for losing his luggage on a world trip, (back in simpler days) added his two cents to the public furor. Not incidentally, former chief of staff to former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, also gave an interview to the CBC, and made the same point of unsolicited counsel to Harper: tell the whole story.
Is there something different about the water Harper drinks from the water Obama and his cabinet secretary drink? Is there something different about the amount of carbon dioxide in the air over the U.S. as compared with that over Canada, that makes it possible for Obama to take responsibility for errors in design and in management that do not come close to issues of integrity, honesty and trust. While it is true that "administration is now enmeshed as part of the policy of Obamacare," nevertheless, there is no indication that anyone involved in its roll-out has deliberately misled the public, although there will certainly be those opponents who will make a concerted attempt to make that case.
Another front-page issue on Obama's desk in the spy story by the National Security Administration, especially its pursuit of private information from allied world leaders, focused specifically on Angela Merkel Germany. Behind the story, days after the rush to judgement of both Merkel and the media, comes news that all countries, even best of friends, are and have been for many years, engaged in spying on their colleagues in political leadership from other "friendly" countries. Telling the whole story, in this case, would take a decade and a mountain of "under-oath" evidence, for which the world has not the time nor the interest.
Harper is the proverbial "frog in the beaker" under which the element is hot, but not yet hot enough to "boil" the frog...and ironically, only Harper, through some comprehensive disclosure of everything he knows, including when he knew it, preferably under oath, can turn the element off under the beaker in which he is starting to writhe. However, his temperament, his history and his self-enshrinement in hubris and in public "control" of his universe, a stance unsustainable by any human being, prevent and will continue to make it impossible for him to morph into forthrightness.
Ironically, with an election looming in 2015, and with the previously accepted notion that Harper would seek another term, one would think he would be more willing to "come clean" whereas Obama does not and will not face another election, so could easily turn aside from the public criticism, and let the chips fall where they may.
However, there is something very different about the two situations: Obama is fighting for something he truly believes in, affordable, accessible and unrestricted by previous conditions health care insurance for all Americans, and getting it right is part of securing the act in history and caring for the vast majority of Americans, many of whom had no health  care coverage without the act.
Harper, on the other hand, is making a "gong show" (the description used by the Liberal leader in the Senate, Senator Joe Cowan) out of his determination to punish those who "abused the public trust" by spending public money on perks to which they were not entitled. Attempting to "wash his hands" clean of the stench to which he has overtly and covertly contributed reminds us of Lady Macbeth whose hand-washing to remove the stain of her murder, while more serious in human terms exhibits the same refusal to come clean and take responsibility. No washing could or ever would remove the stain of blood from the monstrous lady's fingers, just as no washing can or will remove the stain of Harper's hands, boots, mind and voice from the mess in which all Canadians find their government...shamefully!

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