By Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun
One of the most intellectually lazy and politically dishonest things the liberal media have done over the past few years is to constantly misrepresent Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a clone of outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush.
Lazy because the facts don't support it. Dishonest because those making the comparison know better.
On the bright side, they now have a lot of splaining to do, given the number of political views Democratic presidentelect Barack Obama and Harper share and it will be fun to watch them squirm.
The root problem the knee-jerkers have always had is the different political and social cultures of Canada and the U.S. -- we are a center-left country, the U.S., center-right -- make the Bush-Harper comparison silly from the start.
In fact, mainstream politicians in both countries -- particularly successful ones -- start out with a very different set of core beliefs and values, that negate simplistic comparisons.
Similarly, the broader argument that Canadian Conservatives are like American Republicans and Canadian Liberals like American Democrats, can only be pushed so far before it, too, breaks down.
For example, Harper, unlike Bush (and Obama), does not support the death penalty. Harper, unlike Bush, supports medicare and has never attempted to use the power of the state to restrict access to abortions.
Harper's position on same-sex marriage, before the courts decided in its favor and which Harper has not overturned by invoking the Constitution's notwithstanding clause, is the same as Obama's.
Both support civil unions for homosexuals but not same-sex marriages. That's also the position of all the major Democratic presidential contenders in recent years, including Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Both Harper and Obama support the war in Afghanistan.
Harper, from oil-rich Alberta and Obama, from coal-rich Illinois, have both softened their past opposition to the Kyoto accord and reducing greenhouse gas emissions for pragmatic reasons.
As Thomas Walkom, Canada's smartest leftwing commentator wrote in the Toronto Star last year, while it might surprise some of his liberal-left friends: "Stephen Harper is not Satan ... He is not George W. Bush ... He is not a religious fanatic. He does not hate cities" and he has no hidden agenda.
Indeed, he has an open agenda -- reducing the size and reach of the federal government -- hardly a radical position for a conservative.
While Walkom criticized Harper on many fronts, including that he was too cozy with Bush, he also noted Harper is "what he claims to be: A very conservative conservative" and that it is silly to treat him as a caricature, such as describing him as a Bush clone.
Next, consider this example of the logical absurdities to which simplistic comparisons between Canadian and American politicians can lead.
Obama's major campaign promise was a $2.9-trillion tax cut to 95% of American taxpayers over the next decade, despite having inherited a $438-billion deficit from the Bush administration.
On the surface, that sounds a lot like former Conservative Ontario premier Mike Harris' 30% cut to the provincial income tax rate, despite having inherited an $11.2 billion deficit from the previous government of then NDP premier Bob Rae in 1995.
So, does that mean Obama is a Harris clone, a closet common sense revolutionary? Will the federal Liberals (and liberal media), who attacked Harris for cutting taxes without first balancing the budget, make the same criticism of Obama today? Of course not.
BOTH PARTIES CUT TAXES
Now factor in that cutting taxes in tough times (albeit with a different emphasis on who gets the most benefits) has been done by both Republican and Democratic administrations. So, is Obama a Ronald Reagan clone? See how silly this gets?
Finally, to address what the liberal media think is their best argument, yes, had Harper been PM in 2003 it is likely, despite his denials today, that we would have joined the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
But in the U.S. at the time, support for invading Iraq was a bipartisan position widely held by Republicans and Democrats -- and by prominent Liberals inside and outside of then PM Jean Chretien's government, including the current frontrunner for Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff.
For the liberal media to argue, with the benefit of hindsight, that Harper was wrong and Chretien right, is supportable. But to argue that makes Harper a Bush clone is absurd.
Click to view image: '248549-harpernobush.jpg'
In: Iraq, Afghanistan, News
Tags: Harper, Obama, Bush, lazy, dishonest, comparison, conservative, liberal, left, right, politics, Canada, America, Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun, Prime Minister, President, Democrat, Republican,
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