Monday, November 09, 2009

Why do journalists pine for authoritarian leaders?

Michael Ignatieff needs to get a grip – on his caucus, on his party and on his staff. Too many of his Liberals are going rogue.
Okay, so The Globe's Jane Taber didn't like the outcome of the gun control vote.

But why do journalists and commentators always, instantly, and without reflection, support man-on-horseback style leadership, and see disaster in any suggestions that legislators might actually, you know, think?

I'm not crazy about the gun control vote, either, and I admit the outcome supports those who argue the extra rural seats in the House of Commons are more of a real governance problem than it has seemed to me. (Tho' a lot of city MPs had to support it too, starting with the member for Calgary Southwest.)

But "going rogue"? The fear and contempt that Canadian political commentators have for the idea a caucus can be a deliberative forum made up of people with minds, and that a leader should be part of that caucus's deliberations, not merely its programmer, never fails to surprise and sadden me.

Update: Meanwhile, in another legislature, here's the actual parliamentary skills another caucus leader applies to get her program implemented:
It can be seen in her assiduous attention to the details of policy, her willingness to use every tool in a leader’s arsenal – persuasion, threat, reward, retribution – to put together coalitions, and her ability to prioritize Democratic principles, her colleagues say.

A Democratic insider familiar with Pelosi's methods says she sets a plan and pursues it, understanding she'll have to hold a few hands -- and perhaps smack a few others -- along the way.

"The Speaker always has a map in her head and she knows when to invoke history to the caucus versus bring in one person for a three-hour chat," the insider says. "And basically where the negotiations will be three weeks from now -- but (she) knows the members have to go through the process."
The American house passed Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi's health care bill on Saturday. Why is it beneath Canadian leaders to do this kind of parliamentary work too?
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