Harper (at bottom) having flown too close to the Sun
Hubris: Excessive pride displayed by a character, at times taking the form of a boastful challenge to the gods or other higher powers--often resulting in harsh punishment.
Practical hubris is the hubris of Icarus, son of Daedalus. In Greek myth, Daedalus, imprisoned on an island, devises a novel means of escape -- he crafts wings which enable him (and his son) to fly. Before they make their departure, Daedalus warns Icarus of the dangers of flying too high or too low. However, once they are underway, Icarus gets carried away with the joy of flying and ascends to a great height up near the sun. The heat from sun melts the wax that holds the wings together, and Icarus plunges to his death. See: http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:icK6CAg14C8J:www.blog.speculist.com/archives/000606.html+icarus+hubris&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=ca
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. After all, he was the one with the leadership qualities. The Kennedy haircut, the business-like approach to government, the glibness hidden behind a voice with a tone of reason, the self confidence – ah yes, the self-confidence - supreme, ever present, impatient, patronizing.
And the chief opponent, struggling with a distinctive French accent and a mangled English syntax, the boring professor with a back pack, to whom he thought he had put the boots to with the TV attack ads well before the election.
And the socialist – old hat by now, and doctrinaire, leading a party in its final chapter on the way into the history books.
To say nothing of that pesky woman. Yes, a woman. A fanatical tree hugger no less, with the temerity to challenge the safe seat of Peter McKay. Surely, the good burghers of Central Nova or anyone else in the country would pay no attention to such an extremist.
Surely it would be a romp, he said to himself as he appraised the situation on September 7.
Finally he would be given the opportunity of governing as he wished. He would have a free hand in changing Canada at last. He would change its values, move it further within the orbit of the United States so that they would fight side-by-side for all of their shared neocon principles – private medicare, massive deregulation, glory on the battlefield, deep corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for the rich to create those private dynasties that are so effective in creating wealth. Now was his time.
Such an easy romp he thought it was that he could even break a basic election promise of a specific date for the election. And why not? He could say that parliament was dysfunctional and the Canadian people would believe him. Because it was him who was saying it. Look at who his opponents were. And look at the polls. And his party had plenty of money - not the green shift but the green stuff. Now was the time.
Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the polls.
First of all, there was plenty of baggage. The Canadian people had never really warmed up to him. They saw him as a brooding and cold character. He was smart enough, they thought, but weirdly different, and even dangerous. He was too close to the United States for some. His drum beating for the war in Afghanistan to shed blood for a seat at the table did not go down so well for many. They remembered his support of the war in Iraq. They remembered his attacks on Medicare and some of his more extreme statements when he was the head honcho of the National Citizens Coalition.
Even many in his own party distrusted him. He was known to have been disloyal to colleagues. Even Preston Manning distrusted him. He could also be curt and surly. He was a control freak.
He had lapses of integrity. He was not above poaching speeches made by others – even important speeches exhorting the country to have its young bleed in a foreign war.
His slashing partisanship was in a class of its own. He accused his Liberal opponents who dared question some of his policies of supporting the Taliban and not being friends of Israel. When a bereaved father who lost a son in Afghanistan subsequently criticized his government for its policy there, one of his minions said that it was because the father was a Liberal. In the Commons, when a Sikh MP criticized government policy, he said it was because the MP was attempting to protect a relative from testifying at the Air India Inquiry.
And he had a mean streak. He relished seeing his opponents humiliated. He enjoyed holding over their heads the constant threat of an election that he knew they weren’t ready to fight. He approved the running of attack ads that centered on the Opposition leader's French accent in communicating in English as being indicative of a lack of leadership.
He carried on with unsettling behavior during the campaign. When reminded during one of the debates that a medical journal published a letter from a Doctor attacking the government's food inspection system, he said it was because the Doctor was a Liberal. His partisanship was so infectious that an overzealous campaigner created a cartoon puffin doing its private business on the shoulder of the Leader of the Opposition in a TV ad. He took a cheap shot at struggling Canadian artists who, he said, are not appreciated by ordinary Canadians because of their rich taxpayer subsidized galas.
And he hated to admit mistakes. During the English language debate, despite the repeated badgering of Gilles Duceppe, he side-stepped, evaded, bamboozled, and muttered his way into an ignominious corner until he had to cry uncle with an abject admission that the Iraq invasion was a mistake.
Then along came the economic meltdown.with stock markets crashing, foreign banks going broke and real estate values plummeting. There was fear in the hearts of ordinary Canadians. They were worried about their jobs, their savings, their retirement, their children’s future, and they were looking for answers and reassurance.
Far be it for the neocon to come to their rescue. Neocons live and die with the market. They believe in hard-nosed laissez-faire, market forces and rugged individualism. And they will hear no belly-aching, thank you very much. That is the neocon’s solution to the problems the little people are facing today. And that is what he offered.
He was unprepared for the tough times. He had no platform. He had no solution beyond the rigidly conservative provisions of his earlier announcements of a little here and a little there. And he certainly had no compassion. Not even an appearance of compassion. Compassion is the last thing a neocon would even think about.
And so, the chickens have come home to roost. All of that hubris, all of that narrow ideology has done him in - his government, his leadership and his political career.