The Shotgun Blog
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Important "news" item: "No hugs for Harper" (Stephen Harper doesn't hug his kids!)
Kate from Small Dead Animals has her own "gotcha" moment in this election.
Which candidate did she manage to catch saying something stupid, offensive, or boneheaded? No, it's nothing like that. It's the Canadian Press that got caught in a bit of silly and ridiculous news writing.
Here's the "news" item posted early this morning on several news sites, including the Globe and Mail and CTV News:
Later on today, CTV News had the decency to update the story (the Globe still hasn't changed anything) to this:
It's still a stupid story. And the comment sections on both "news" items are full of people expressing their anger not at Harper for not hugging or kissing or coddling or whatever-else-the-Canadian-Press-thinks-is-appropriate-father-daughter-send-off-etiquette, but at the news story itself.
At least on the CTV News website, where comments were closed. Not so much at the Globe. For some reason, many commenters there think there's something super important about this really, really dumb news story.
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I agree that it's a stupid story, but who started it? If Harper wants to set-up photo-ops where he uses his daughter to show his fatherly side, then if he creates the impression of being a cold or distant father and people talk about it, there is no one to blame but him.
This is just another variation on the "leave the families alone" theme we saw recently when Sarah Palin was nominated. If candidates don't want people talking about their families or about whether or not they are good, "loving" parents, then they should not trot out the kids for the cameras. Remember that one of Harper's first ads of the campaign featured "ordinary" Canadians paraising him, with one who liked him because he is a parent of young kids. Then there was the "Family is Everything" fuzzy-sweater ad ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZfHe2LMRb0 ).
But the fact that candidates do treat their kids this way is more of an indication of their qualities as parents than anything we actually might see. I'm sure Harper loves his kids and they are not suffering from neglect, but he does show little hesitation about putting them in the public eye. This is why the story makes it very clear that they did not just follow him without invitation to intrude on private family time.
So without the background of making family an issue by Harper in the first place you could blame the media for making an issue from whole cloth. As it is, they are merely making an issue from a blue sweater vest. But Harper would not be doing this and the media would not be writing about it if it were not the case that there are enough voters who think this is important stuff for them to want to pander to them.
BTW, I don't have a clue why you think the original headline was indecent. I would have thought "Harper Uses Daughter For Photo-Op To Win Votes" would have been the best headline, but if the story as is is getting Harperites mad at the media, just think what would have happened had they done that!
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-10-01 12:34:26 AM
I second your assessment. Politics should not involve families, and politicians should not involve their families.
In the end, there are many prejudices that must be overcome. Married people are not more suited to elective office than single people. I don't care if someone is Mormon, dark-skinned, Jewish, lesbian, or likes to wear brown shoes with a black belt – all that matters is that they execute their responsibility to defend liberty.
Unfortunately, most voters choose their candidate on superficial grounds, leading to behaviour like Mr. Harper's. I hope he remembers that votes are important, but some things just shouldn't be for sale.
Posted by: Mike Vine | 2008-10-01 1:32:03 AM
When I was there age I wouldn't have wanted a hug or kiss in front of TV cameras either...
Posted by: Pete | 2008-10-01 7:04:06 PM
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