Sunday, January 08, 2006

A little bit of history repeating?

My favourite song of the past several years is the fantastic collaboration between the Propellerheads and Miss Shirley Bassey entitled "History Repeating". I think of it as my theme song as a Canadian historian.

Observing the 2006 campaign puts one in mind of this song, especially when reading what really should be the must-read book of the campaign, Stephen Clarkson's The Big Red Machine. I've now finished reading it, and found the second-last chapter - on Paul Martin's campaign in 2004 - particularly perceptive. Clarkson is clearly no fan of Martin's, but the brain trust would be well-advised to read the book from cover to cover and learn from it. Someone working for the Conservatives has read the book, as recent reports indicate that Harper has muzzled candidates from talking about socially conservative positions. Clarkson sees this as being the big problem for the Alliance/Conservatives in both 2000 and 2004.

I will, however, be curious to see if the media trends from 2004 repeat themselves. Paul Wells noted a recent column in the Toronto Star quoting Stephen Harper as saying that his trouble in 2004 began when he appeared on the front cover of Macleans. Saturday's Globe and Mail did the same thing. Clarkson observes that Harper had a free ride in 2004 from the media until he pulled even in the polls, and then he became the object of deeper scrutiny - starting, according to Clarkson, with a column from the "dean of the chattering caste" Jeffrey Simpson. For those keeping track, Simpson lambasted Harper's tax plans in his column on January 6th.

I wonder if Stephen Harper is going to torpedo his gains in Quebec by giving ammunition to Liberal allegations that the Conservatives are in bed with the separatists, particularly if they decide to get on the bandwagon with the allegations about Option Canada, to be published in book form by author Normand Lester, whom everyone, save Paul Wells seems to have forgotten is also the author of the Black Book of English Canada. If I were a Liberal, I'd be trumpeting this fact from the rooftops, and if I were an NDP candidate, I wouldn't be touching this particular case with a ten-foot pole.

I've been finding this election rather depressing - but reading The Big Red Machine has at least restored my interest in it from an academic perspective.

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At 1:57 pm, Blogger J. Kelly said...

Dude, that song's older than you think... I remember listening to it in high school. 1998 was 7 years ago.
Ah, how time flies.

At 8:20 pm, Blogger Matt said...

Ah, you young whippersnapper. I know how old the song is - it came out way back when I was an undergrad!


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