posted by coyote
The quiet sucking sound at ex-MP Rahim Jaffer's parliamentary hearing Wednesday was his former pals vacuuming the last of his political oxygen from the room. The whumpwhump as they tossed him under the crosstown 95 was just punctuation.
It's taken me a couple of days to puzzle out what went down, because us coyotes are just slow that way. Jaffer led with bravado, proclaiming his simon-purity in the matter of peddling influence; moved to bathos when he choked out a little well-timed contrition toward his wife, ex-minister Helena Guergis; then changed it up to bafflegab in cross-examination, to blow smoke over his (many) inconsistencies. He seemed convinced it would work, even after Tory MP Tom Lukiwski passed copious photocopies all 'round to contradict what Jaffer had said.
I finally got the plot when I realized that Jaffer copped his script straight from his parliamentary days. Tories use the bravado/bathos/bafflegab gag in every duel in Question Period. Come out firing, briefly tug the constituents' heartstrings, then bellow any arrant nonsense that unsubtly ignores the actual question. Admit no fault, however self-evident. (Preferably wearing a snarky sneer - for manifold examples, I cite the face beneath John Baird's hair. I digress.)
It seems to work - for governments. That, say, think they have the power to sit on document trails that show who knew what, about Afghan prisoners being tortured. I digress again. Sadly, this time...
Regular schmoes are not so lucky. Jaffer ain't plugged into government anymore, despite his alleged illusions to the contrary. With less hubris he might've noted the prime minister missed no opportunity to label him a private citizen. And he coulda guessed that if Mr Harper could blackball former PM Brian Mulroney - party luminary such as he is - then a problem partyguy from Edmonton-Strathcona would barely rate.
I'd say Harper lives in secret fear of taint. Yeah, he's a coldly calculating stinker who seems indifferent to what others think of him. But any hint of potential irony around a narrowly-defined sort of government corruption gives him the cold willies. He squeaked out a couple of elections by promising to end all that. So if some of his ministers tolerated an alleged illegal lobbyist who used to be one of 'em, without ratting him out in the fashion the PM hisself ordered, it would look, ummm... bad.
The real irony is that it was an impossible promise. The PM has gotta think that even with his stranglehold on his caucus, it's only a matter of time until one of 'em screws up. Coulda happened already. Inevitable human nature will kneecap him right where he staked out his only moral high ground. Sometime, his bus will come. Bummer about that squeaky-clean legacy...