Sunday, January 23, 2005

Kinsella Pats Himself on the Back

Since last summer's Canadian election, my travels (and the highly annoying "registration" firewalls at both the Globe and Post) have prevented me from following the intricacies of Canadian politics as closely as usual. Plus, when you really look at it, both the American and (to a lesser extent) English political systems are just plain more interesting: better, more sophisticated, more consequential debate. So it has been awhile since a post of substance on my "domestic" political scene.

I suppose this is simply a roundabout way of saying that I have not paid the slightest attention to the Gomery inquiry. My simplistic take on the whole sponsorship scandal is that this is the type of scenario that seems to arise inevitably when one party retains an unchallenged hold on power for so long. Were their abuses and kickbacks? Sure. Did Martin know about it? Almost certainly. Does it rise to a level of criminality, or should the rightful punishments be leveled in the voting booth? Who really knows - but tracing the way back through the bureaucracy is no small matter and national unity is something you can hide behind. Frankly I think Sheila Copps' "flags for everyone" investment was just as terrible a mismanagement and waste of taxpayer cash. So there's the difficulty, and an indictment on the Conservatives as an opposition that they were not in any position to turf the Liberals for such mismanagment.

Which brings me to Kinsella. I know of Warren only through his website and blog - one that I highly recommend and have been reading for the better part of a year now. I like him. I like the fiery partisanship, the loyalty, the insights into the backroom angle of electoral politics, and confess we probably are quite closely aligned on the left-wing Liberal portion of the spectrum and share very similar opinion on our current Prime Minister's abilities. You know what to expect when you read his posts, and he never pulls any punches. I wouldn't use him as my only source on the whole Gomery affair, but it is nice to see him speaking up aggressively against what has become the conventional wisdom of what actually occurred in the sponsorship mess.

And yet, and yet... at times he veers so far off the edge that the partisanship and hyperbole is simply unfunny, outright snipy and meanspirited, resulting in an extremely "holier than thou" tone. When the histrionics are just a little too much to stomach, to be honest. The line is a difficult one to straddle, I guess, so I don't really know if this is a real criticism per se. I do know that I certainly take him less seriously over all - and react to many of his postings with sentiments of "Oh Warren" and "There he goes again". At times, his comments contain valuable perspective, but at other times he can offer up some pretty terrible partisan hackery.

Strong opinions make the blogosphere what it is, so by all means I hope he keeps at it. But I wonder if he ever realizes how it comes across to casual readers (though he would no doubt respond that he doesn't care). Case in point - and what finally compelled me to post a substantial comment on all this - is today's comment about Ivison. The link, for now, is here - though as the days go by you'll have to scroll back to January 23rd to find it.

I have read John Ivison columns in the Post. While he is not Andrew Coyne [for my money the best commentator Canada has got, would he only return to his abandoned blog], Ivison is a top political writer and covers the daily beat in Ottawa for the Post. Kinsella's bitterness at the man for critizing him in a column is downright juvenile. If you take Warren's word, it sounds like I have no access to Ivison's actual piece, but can imagine some of the legitimate statements that have Warren up in arms. And his response is predictable, as he wheels out some vague story [one he calls, hilariously, a "revealing and true anecdote"] to basically imply that the consensus on Ivison is that he's no good.

Pathetic. Notice the classic name-dropping ["the rest of us - a group that included me, plus few senior staffers and ministers-to-be"], a completely over-the-top cheapshot ["because you have to be one of the six people in Canada who actually pay to scrutinize John's attempts to sound informed about politics"] and his feeding on an overstated sense of personal importance, that his snide little put-down will get him "banned" from the pages of the Post. He even insinuates that Ivison's motives are due to some petty jealousy at the fact that more people read Kinsella's webpage than his National Post column. Please.

As I said at the beginning, I like Warren. But if the Ivison column does deride his site for a too-congratulatory tone that verges into hackery at times, then count me firmly on John's side in the argument. Enjoy the NFL games tonight, they should be fantastic. I'm outta here.


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