Stubborn is as stubborn does
North and south of the Canada-U.S. border, we're getting some object lessons these days on the whole issue of stubbornness and its place in politics. I'm not sure how or why it happened -- the media no doubt plays its part as enforcer -- but somehow, being doggedly stubborn has come to be seen as a political virtue; synonymous with resolve or determination.
Hillary Clinton is presenting the most glaring example, obviously. Clinton refuses to admit she's sunk as a presidential candidate -- her stubbornness may exact a cost in party unity and ultimately, perhaps, in Obama's chances for success in November. The Democrats' symbol may be a donkey, but does that mean that stubbornness goes with the territory?
Here in Canada, we saw Prime Minister Stephen Harper stubbornly sticking to the nobody's-business line about his former foreign affairs minister, even as the PMO was setting events in motion to oust Bernier from cabinet a week ago. Chantal Hebert's column in today's Star reflects a little on the damage Harper did to himself by being stubborn last week. Jim Travers, meanwhile, also wrote on the folly of stonewalling over the weekend saying that on this score, Harper is no Jean Chrétien. It may well be that Chrétien helped turn stubbornness into a Canadian political virtue during his time in office, but there were plenty of us, at the time, who didn't really see that headstrong nature of his as an asset.
Liberal leader Stéphane Dion has a stubborn streak too, we're told, that makes it difficult for people to give him advice. That's reportedly how the carbon-tax proposal landed in front of the public before the party was ready to explain it fully -- a stubborn Dion wanted it out there.
It all may mean it's time for politicians and their advisers to rethink the whole concept of stubbornness -- or at least blind stubbornness. It's not that attractive a trait in a boss, a colleague or a friend or family member -- why should it work any better in politics?