Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"A gal pal with a Harley history"

Kudos to Don Martin today for that exquisite turn of phrase. Maxime Bernier, the former Conservative Minister of Foreign Affairs, about whom probably millions of blogwords have already been spilled, has been brought down, we are told, by his manifest ill-judgement--including his choice of partner.

Hold on a sec.

Here's one progressive blogger who sees things a little differently. And one of the things I see is a cold Puritanical self-righteousness, even among my comrades on the Left.

Julie Couillard, not to put too fine a point upon it, is a babe. She has a liking for macho men with power--bikers, cabinet ministers, whatever. And, no doubt, all she has to do is whistle.

When she showed up for Bernier's swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall, I silently cheered. Whether the choice of dress was hers or Bernier's, she looked the way she couldn't help looking--scrumptious--and I don't blame Maxime for one moment for beaming out loud, as it were. I knew she'd offend the assorted so-con fuddy-duddies in attendance, and it was no surprise that Mrs. Stephen Harper was reportedly upset. But some of my best progressive buds reacted the same way. "Unstylish and inappropriate," sniffed one guy who normally delights in excoriating that sort of über-fastidiousness in others. "[Looks] like a cheap tart," said another commenter in the same thread. "Tarted up like a high-class hooker," said a well-known destroyer of the pretentious, the snooty and the lame.

As I said--all she'd have to do is whistle. Admit it.

Bernier was in over his head as Foreign Affairs minister, we can all agree on that. After opening his yap about replacing the governor of Kandahar, he should have sunk from sight like a stone. But such is not Harper's way. His ministers are mere limbs of Himself, and he doesn't like to admit that his iron control ever slips. It took an anvil chorus of Opposition and media hammers to wake him up to the fact that amputation was probably in his own best interest. And so, scant hours after his House Leader had reasserted his confidence in Bernier, the operation was performed. One just can't leave highly classified materials lying around in a girlfriend's apartment. Even worse when she's an ex-girlfriend, with a checkered record.

"They were not market sensitive; they were not anything that could move markets," said Mr./Ms. Well-Placed Source, reinforcing Conservative priorities in the midst of the melee. They were, however, Cabinet documents.

Meanwhile, by all accounts, Couillard gave a good account of herself last evening on TVA. Far from being "clearly in love with publicity" as Don Martin alleges, she was a person who had been trashed
for weeks in the press (not to mention the blogosphere), and who took the proffered opportunity to speak publicly in her own defence. Who wouldn't, in her position?

Let's keep the focus on Bernier, shall we? He wasn't up to the job. His misjudgement was impeccable. He was a fine clothes horse, and might have been Conservative leader someday on the strength of it. But his carelessness--what some have the nerve to call his insouciance (putting a positive, oh-so-Continental spin on good old-fashioned incompetence)--was his undoing. Can we not stay political when we analyze the events surrounding the brief tenure of yet another government minister who has proven undistinguished, and avoid the unseemly mixture of prurience, envy and sexism that continues to taint the public discourse?

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