Thursday, August 17, 2006

Making Political Hay

There has been some criticism from the left recently that our political masters are using the recent terror arrests in the UK for political advantage.

To step back and look at this in a non-partisan way for one moment, you have to admit that this is indeed the case. In particular, George W. and his administration have been extracting the maximum of political capital from the situation since the announcement of the foiled plot. No doubt the same is happening in the U.K. itself, most likely to an even greater extent.

However, maintaining objectivity for a while longer (oh, the strain!) we must also accept that in our representative democracies, and in a world where the soundbite matters more than the substance, it is inevitable that this would be the case. No matter what the event, it is the politician's job to spin it, torque it and use it to their maximum advantage. We should not and cannot expect anything else.

It is distasteful, to be sure, and especially when this happens as a result of tragic events. But it applies to all politicians of all stripes; remember when Jack Layton suddenly came over all tough on crime after the Jane Creba shooting? Or Ontario's Attorney General running like a greyhound to chase the ambulance any time there was a dog attack, to justify the pit-bull ban?

This is the system we built for ourselves. To expect politicians not to make capital from negative events is too much to hope for; unless they all stop, none of them can stop.

To his credit, however, at least Stephen Harper has been relatively silent on the terror arrests, as compared to Bush and Blair. It's a good effort in an imperfect world.