The Harper Comparison
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The Harper Comparison

There’s been a number of unfavourable comparisons of Stephen Harper and George W. Bush of late, both in politics, media and of course those silly attack ads. But what of a legitimate comparison, at least in terms of the campaign? Here is George Jr. on his father’s failed 1992 presidential campaign:

“First lesson, polls change. I take nothing for granted. Second, we’ve got a strategy for the timing of policy speeches and set the debate…You die a death of a thousand cuts in politics…[George Bush Sr.] got defined as somebody who didn’t care about the domestic economy and how people were doing at home. [His opponents] defined him before he could define himself.”

This excerpt was taken from “The Redemption” by Nicholas Lemann, appearing in the New Yorker on Jan. 31, 2000).
harper011606.jpgSay what you will about G.W., but the man obviously knows how to run a campaign (or at least hire people who know how to run a campaign). In our current situation, Stephen Harper did something very similar to what his conservative ally to the south was suggesting; that is define himself early in the campaign. In lateNovember, Mr Harper came out with his own set of election issues, which have dominated the political discourse of the country. He put himself out into the open with the policy-per-day strategy, making sure no one could define him as sinister or, to use the parlance of our times, as the boogey-man. In effect, Mr Harper didn’t let Paul Martin or Jack Layton set the agenda and thus put him into a social or environment issues hole. Harper was able to set policy for the issues that he chose, and in the process defined himself as a confident prime minister in waiting.