Canadian Politicos 'Fess up to Smoking Dope
Canada seems transfixed by whether their political representatives have smoked dope, how much and when. Now that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has pronounced himself in favour of legalizing the sale of marijuana, it was inevitable that he would be asked about his own use of it. He surprised the public by his admission of having smoked it as recently as a few years ago - while sitting as an MP. The media immediately quizzed every politician they could - ranging from Premiers to Mayors [Rob Ford's admission to having smoked 'lots of pot' was not reassuring]. Prime Minister Harper replied at a news conference, "do I look like I've smoked marijuana?" Then he used the opportunity to attack Trudeau and the Liberals as promoting marijuana use while he is focused on the economy and jobs. That is the script formula for the next two years leading up to the election. Justin Trudeau is banking on his marijuana 'positioning' as part of his narrative attractive to youth and positioning his party as a clear alternative to the status quo. His target on this one is to pull away potential NDP Mulcair supporters, who is in favour of decriminalization - not legalization.
Obama Rolls the Dice on Syria with Congress
Meanwhile the world awaits what will transpire in Syria. President Obama built up expectations that the U.S. would launch imminent military action against the Syrian government to "suffer consequences" for their use of sarin gas against hundreds of innocent civilians and children. However, President Obama pulled up short and threw the issue to Congress for approval on the heels of the British House of Commons' voting down Prime Minister David Cameron's intention to join the President. It also forced the only other world leader - France's François Hollande - to 'consult' with the French National Assembly as well. [Incidentally, you've got to hand it to France, in one deft move, President Hollande has secured a strong relationship with Obama. After all, he was right there with him from the outset. Those chips can be cashed in somewhere down the road when France is looking for support from the Obama Administration.]
The President feels he can win the support of the House and Senate and his concerted effort to secure the support of Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham appears to have paid off. The two Senators emerged from their White House meeting to urge their fellow Republicans to back the President. The big issue will be the Tea Party Republicans who see an opportunity to paint Obama as a weakened President by denying him the support he needs. At the same time, they can claim that they are acting consistently on their belief that America should stay out of such military actions.
Perception of the President will Rise or Fall on the vote
The perception of the President as a strong, principled leader will rise or fall on the vote - particularly in the House - where the outcome is uncertain. If he loses the vote, his brand will take a strong hit. He has indicated that he may proceed regardless of the Congressional vote, but that would fly in the face of his strong stand in 2008 when candidate Obama told the Boston Globe, “the President does not have the power, under the constitution, to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” He did, however, take unilateral military action against Libya in 2011 but that cost him political support among Democrats.
Therefore, he needs to gain Congressional backing this time to maintain his support among Democrats and to strengthen his hand - especially if the Syrian strike does not work out the way he would want. If he does gain Congressional support, he will be strengthened in the perception of him as a leader. Next time, though, he'll have to manage the expectations of the American public in a more strategic way.
The Perception of Vladimir Putin
And what - if anything - will be said at the G20 in St. Petersburg about the Russian government's legislation concerning the anti-gay legislation passed by the Russian Duma? Probably nothing formally, but Prime Minister Harper's spokesperson, Andrew MacDougall, has said that the Prime Minister may bring up the issue with Putin on a one-on-one basis.
|Putin auditions for the Olympics Synchronized Swimming team|