Harper: Politician or pundit?
About a year ago, Norman Spector, former chief of staff to Brian Mulroney, and now a freelance columnist and media critic, wrote what I think is one of the better analyses of Stephen Harper's leadership abilities.
Essentially, Spector said that Harper was not the brilliant strategist that everyone thinks he is -- he's more a pundit. True enough, in his out-of-politics life from 1997 to 2001, Harper quite enjoyed being a freelance columnist and op-ed writer in several newspapers.
Today, in Question Period, we saw a vivid, even surreal illustration of this, when Harper accidentally slipped out of prime ministerial mode and lapsed into punditry.
It happened when Liberal leader Stephane Dion got up to ask a second round of questions, abandoning the Cadman controversy and turning to the Canada-Obama affair, which the NDP has been hammering away at all week.
Harper said: "I would point out to the Leader of the Opposition that when he was throwing around wild accusations of scandal, the leader of the NDP was already on top of this issue."
What?? As some of us wondered, how else to translate this but: "Hey, Jack Layton's on to the bigger scandal here, Stephane -- take note."
Harper doesn't normally make mistakes like this. A sign of pressure?
Dion, to his credit, however, had a pretty decent comeback. "We do not know how to choose among all the scandals he has," the Liberal leader said.