President Obama is not able to vote for the Conservatives
There has been some buzz on the Liberal blogsphere about Mr. Harper's decision to skip President Obama's speech at the UN to come home and do a photo-op at Tim Hortons.
Of course, those very same Liberals have been claiming that this just further indicates that Mr. Harper is not a world leader. To which I state, Mr. Harper does not care. His only concern since he won power a few years ago is to amass more power and Barack Obama will not help him do that.
Mr. Harper is constantly campaigning and since he knows that Barack Obama is unable to vote for him he came home to where those votes are. In his judgement he does not believe he will be hurt by not staying in New York to listen to the President.
He is probably right with regard to his base. It is well known that they
- do not like the UN and what it stands for,
- do not like President Obama and what he stands for. Certainly, they like their guy to be with him so that some of his popularity will rub off on him but they do not like him,
- do not really care about foreign policy except for how it can further their short-term political advantage, and
- certainly do not care about the environment, global warming or climate change.
So his base very much appreciated his actions today but the broader Canadian public may not.
Which brings me to a question I have asked before. Why is Stephen Harper spending so much time trying to shore up his base? One thing public polls do not ask of respondents is if they would vote on election day. However, that is routinely asked by party pollsters when they identify a supporter of the party that sponsored the poll. Perhaps, those polls are not saying what the Conservatives want to hear.
A second reason why Stephen Harper might have skipped the speech was for a little tit for tat. Last week President Obama snubbed Mr. Harper by not meeting him at the door of the White House. Of course, the media, the PMO and others blew it off but Mr. Harper is the leader of the United States' leading trading partner and oldest friend. To leave greeting Mr. Harper, upon his arrival, to a relatively low level protocal officer is a snub and Mr. Harper felt it was just that. You just have to look at his facial expression and body language when the was greeted at the White House door to see he was disappointed. For a man as image conscious as he is that snub probably caused a slow burn.
That event was the first indication that there is tension in that relationship. It is well known that Mr. Harper tried to derail the President's run at that office early in the primaries and I am certain that has not been forgotten by the President or his staff. They both hide it very well at joint news conferences of course but that is just diplomacy. President Obama could find Stephen Harper in bed with his wife and he would still have nothing but nice things to say about him in front of the media.
The actions by Mr. Harper today is quite telling on two fronts. It further demonstrates that the Conservatives feel the need to shore up their base at the risk of alienating the 70%+ Canadians who would not automatically vote for the Conservatives. As well, it might indicate that behind all of the nice words being stated publically that these two men really do not like each other.