Ari Fleischer became widely known as George Bush’s first white house press secretary (2001-2003).  In this role he was responsible for communicating and defending the president’s policies to the press corps while they asked the ‘tough questions’.  While not an easy job, he did perform with the earnestness of a true believer.  Among the many unsavory policies he was tasked to defend was the U.S. led invasion of Iraq in 2003.  His childlike, pedantic and mind numbing defense of this indefensible aggression was sadly effective to many Americans but it did illustrate Fleischer’s skill at public relations and spin.  With these skills he has carved a niche for himself in the private sector as a conservative pundit with many high level media connections, most notably Fox news and the only marginally less conservative CNN.  Reviewing two of the certitudes he routinely markets to the press we find:

– Attempts to make the attacks of 9/11 vaguely seem as if they didn’t happen during the Bush presidency.  

– Claims that the torture of detainees was not torture, and if it was it’s alright since it was probably legal and allegedly yielded   actionable intelligence, all the while maintaining the idea that ‘America’ doesn’t torture – except their logic.

Fleischer’s’ seamless continuum from his days as white house press secretary to right-wing reactionary pundit rolls on unabated, and indeed has expanded to new territory here in Canada.  He is now Prime Minister Harpers’ southern man, a job consisting of raising the profile of the Harper brand by arranging access to that tag team cable circus also known as Fox and CNN.  It’s a miraculous place where unreality is transformed into reality; a red-hot crucible where issues, subtleties and complexities are burned away and reduced to unchallenged paint by number talking points.  If only the Canadian media would be so ‘fair and balanced’…!

But why would Harper wish to expose himself to these characters?   Aside from an apparent ideological kinship, they seem to provide a forum he might not otherwise have inside his own country to justify his policies.  His recent decision to prorogue parliament until March, a move The Economist magazine describes as ‘naked self-interest’, requires as much spinning as he can get.  I know the conservatives believe in limited governance but zero governance?  Wow. His justifications are varied and worthy of Fox news:  the Olympics require our attention, or the ‘games’ played by the opposition in parliament creates instability in the global markets so it’s best to shut it down, or prorogation is so routine Canadians could care less yada yada.

Each time Harpers’ neocon tendencies disclose themselves through his ‘naked self-interest’ I can’t help thinking maybe this time he’s gone too far.  Time will tell, but he’d be wise not to continue to bet on Canadian equanimity and remember that we enjoy a system of parliamentary democracy and not conservative plutocracy.

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