Saturday, March 29, 2008

Don't Talk Principles To Me, The Game Is On

The pundit party of Canada has a problem. The media is confused by the NDP's attitude toward and election. They just can't understand why a party with no hope of forming a government and not great poll numbers would want an election. I watched Newman's show this week and two exchanges illustrate this narrative being played out.

The first was on Wednesday, in this conversation between Newman and Peggy Nash (start at 17:45). Nash explains that the NDP is not overly anxious for an election but is voting in the House according to party principles and if that brings an election, so be it. Newman sweeps by this assertion pretty quickly, but at least he sort of acknowledges it.

Fine thinks I, that pretty much clear clears that up, but on Friday, on the round table discussion, comes this display of group think at its finest (start at 46:21). Not once did you hear them discussing Nash's stated reason for the NDP voting the way they are (in fact, Newman begins the segment by completely misrepresenting what Nash actually said). Gone was Nash's argument for principled voting and with it missing, the media talking heads fell back on the "Why are the NDP acting so strangely?" narrative.

The pundits in this country have their minds made up about what politics are supposed to be. It is a sporting event where the players are constantly jockeying for advantage and the polls act as the final arbiters of the team standings. That is the dominant narrative of our political chatting class. Any counter narrative, like the one Nash tried to introduce, hasn't a hope of penetrating the psychic armor brandished by our media betters. What a sad state of affairs.
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  1. Fair enough, Fester, but does this mean that now any imputations of opportunism to River-Boat Jack are just part of the dominant narrative? Frankly, I find his Video Professor commercials as cynical as anything the libs or cons have done.

  2. but does this mean that now any imputations of opportunism to River-Boat Jack are just part of the dominant narrative?

    No, I think the NDP should be called for cynicism when warranted. A prime example of that was in the case of the veils debate. In that case, it was an example of the NDP acting against their own principles for political gain. Calling them on that is great. What I object to is the summary dismissal of that motive, by our journalists, when discussing why parties behave as they do.

  3. I know what you mean, Fester, but this assumes that each case is discrete and that cynical motives in the instance you mention--I'd add the self-interested NDP strategy in the Cadman affair (for which they received a gold star from the prime minister)--shouldn't affect our perception of their motives in other connections. Unfortunately, the colours run in politics.

  4. Fester, can I take your eloquent silence on the Video Professor commercials as indicating that we agree on one thing?

  5. :) Either that or I had to go out.

  6. Many people view politics as a game. It's all about winning not about implementing policies. Just like NHL hockey about about winning, not about scoring goals using only a wrist shot.

    Political pendants probably are most prone to view politics as a game, because they have chosen to be professionals of observing the game, rather then participating in the game.

    Liberals is made up of many who view politics as a game, so they are more about winning and less about principles.

    The NDP has few people who are in it to win because we more about principles.

    The real problem is, if the NDP starts to win it will attract more people who view politics as a game and our principles will become diluted.

  7. Who are you calling a pendant?