February 15, 2006


Why has Stephen Harper stayed out of sight?
: Setting up shop 'a formidable task,' aide says of PM's lack of public action (GLORIA GALLOWAY, 2/15/06, Globe and Mail

Stephen Harper will re-enter the public realm this afternoon to offer a few patriotic words about Flag Day before returning to the prime ministerial bunker and his preferred task of shaping government.

In more than a week since his controversial cabinet took the oath of office, Mr. Harper has made few forays into the world of cameras and digital recorders.

There was a news conference after a cabinet meeting on the first day in office. There was a brief address before a caucus meeting. There was a speech Friday night in Halifax to honour his supporter, outgoing Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm. And there were phone conversations in his camera-filled office with Olympic flag bearer Danielle Goyette and gold-medallist Jennifer Heil.

But, for the most part, the new Prime Minister has stayed well out of the public eye...

None of the theories that George Bush and Karl Rove had settled on for guiding this presidency served us better than their determination to lower the president's piublic profile -- after the omnipresence of Bill Clinton -- and save his appearances for times when what he had to say was important. This heightened the effect of President Bush's post-9-11 speeches precisely because he hadn't been pretending that everything else he had to say was of world-shaking importance.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 15, 2006 8:33 AM

What flag is that the mexican flag of drug dealers and mass murder and rape? see it for what it is!

Posted by: Fred Dawes at February 15, 2006 10:04 AM

The other two factors are Bush's lack of vocal elequence (of course) compared with Clinton, and the fact that Bush and Rove knew that even if GWB had the golden tounge of Ronald Reagan, his statements would never get the deferential coverage on minor items most of Clinton's speeches received. Talk about the major issues when the time is right and people are paying attention to the point that they'll take the time to judge the speech and the media spin; babble on about minor items which folks don't care about all that much, and if the press is against you they and the Democrats have a better chance of shaping the agenda.

Posted by: John at February 15, 2006 10:43 AM


The eloquence thing is a myth they created too. Bush has given twenty speeches more memorable than any of Clinton's and every press conference is followed be befuddled wonderment at how adroit he was.

Posted by: oj at February 15, 2006 11:49 AM

OJ is correct - Clinton spewed endlessly, but was considered good at it (the press liked parsing his meaninglessness). He could riff (like at the recent King funeral), but he never gave a memorable speech and did not provide any lodestone lines (SAVE SOCIAL SECURITY doesn't qualify).

Bush doesn't riff, at least not that way (he is a Texan who doesn't try to talk jive), but he has given more memorable speeches than probably even Reagan. And he has put some real markers in them, too. We read many of them here, but the press ignores them, out of their hatred. Kind of hard to parse "axis of evil", now isn't it?

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 15, 2006 2:36 PM