3.22.2007

election preview

What is it with conservatives and the support-our-troops game?
"I can understand the passion that the leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for the Taliban prisoners," Harper said. "I just wish occasionally they would show the same passion for Canadian soldiers."

His comments were quickly followed by boos and jeers from Liberals in the House. Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion said he was shocked by Harper's suggestion and demanded an apology.

Harper continued with his barrage.

"I would like to see more support in the House of Commons from all sides for Canadian men and women in uniform," he said. "I think Canadians expect that from parliamentarians in every party. They have not been getting it, and they deserve it.

Historically, has this been as typical in Canada as it is in the US? I know everyone likes to say that Harper's team follows the Bush playbook, but Bush didn't invent the support-the-troops bait, and the Liberals are the ones who sent Canadians troops to Afghanistan in the first place. Is the phony with-us-or-against-us mode new and imported?

We can support human rights, fair treatment of prisoners and the country's own troops, you know. They're not mutually exclusive. I hope Canadian voters know that.

3 comments:

James Redekop said...

Historically, has this been as typical in Canada as it is in the US?

I don't remember ever hearing this kind of rhetoric in Canada before. During the Somalia Scandal, no-one -- so far as I recall -- was saying that the investigation into Shidane Arone's death meant that people "didn't support the troops". Though people were saying that the individual soldiers that would beat a teenager to death for trespassing didn't deserve respect or support -- which is quite a different thing than "not supporting the troops".

Bush may not have invented the "support-the-troops" trope, but he's certainly polished it to a high sheen, and while it may have cropped up up here before, I don't remember hearing it before Harper.

Bush likes to think "support the troops" means "never criticize anything they do, or anything they're ordered to do", but then he's known for his inability to handle subtleties...

laura k said...

Thanks, James. Interesting.

Bush likes to think "support the troops" means "never criticize anything they do, or anything they're ordered to do"

The same rhetoric can be found in US newspapers for every war since there's been newspapers. It was very big during the Vietnam War. And the Vietnam experience makes it even easier to use now, because of the myth of Vietnam vets being mistreated by the anti-war public.

So while Bush is operating in a standard US tradition here, it sounds like Harper is imitating US rhetoric in a very un-Canadian way.

QrazyQat said...

I've read that Harper is following the playbook of Howard from Australia. Look up info about Howard to see what's in store and -- possibly -- how likely it is to work.