Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Four lines of defence

David Frum, on the "Four Stages of Adscam".

1. They're out to get us. Almost as soon as Judge Gomery began exposing damaging facts, former prime minister Jean Chretien and his circle denounced the inquiry as biased, wasteful, vindictive and unfair. This "poor little us" approach was copied from the Clinton campaign against Ken Starr. But Clinton had an advantage that the Liberals lack: He persuaded the U.S. public that his misdeeds did not belong in court at all. Nobody is going to believe that the theft of public money is not a public concern.

2. It's the price of doing business. This is the line repeated by poor, trapped Scott Brison, the renegade Conservative whose sensitive conscience forced him out of his old party and into Alfonso Gagliano's old job. In the House of Commons last Tuesday, Brison suggested that a couple of hundred million dollars of corruption was a price well worth paying for the inestimable benefit of Liberal rule--and that anyone who thought otherwise was seeking to "destroy Canada."


3. Which brings us to the next strategy: Make Canadians an offer they can't refuse. Liberals are now musing about hurrying forward on a great pile of wonderful new Liberal initiatives, from Kyoto to Paul Martin's oft-promised "cities agenda." Prodded by these exciting ideas, the public would wake up and realize the terrible injury it would suffer if the Liberals ever lost power.


4. More promising is the last strategy: That was a different mob. Paul Martin has grimly tried to convince Canadians that the sponsorship scandal was a Chretien scandal, not a Liberal scandal. He and his associates knew nothing.

In one sense, this claim may well be literally true. Louisiana's famously corrupt Depression-era strongman Huey Long used to quip: "Never write what you can say, never say what you can nod, never nod what you can wink, and never wink what the other fellow knows already."