The political dramas unfolding in the provincial and national capitals is providing a vivid example of perception vs reality in politics.
Controlling the message is the key to maintaining control. If the base remains convinced that your projected message is accurate, you control their perception of reality.
The Mike Duffy gambit has thrown the fox in with the hens. Duffy traded his journalistic Integrity for a senate appointment. He quickly became a superstar fundraiser preaching the Conservative message to the converted and filling the parties coffers. A cash machine!
In return for doing the heavy lifting he felt entitled to a little more from the Conservative through.
Crisscrossing the country, eating rubber chicken and steak is tiring stuff. The work was impacting his health while senior minsters and other senators were getting a free ride.
Two things matter to the Conservatives, their sheep like base and that base's deep financial contributions. That money fuels the party's insatiable permanent campaign.
Duffy's demands were easily met within the confines of the murky financial rules of the senate. It appears his residency and his entitlement to his entitlements were insignificant issues. The PMO could manage him.
However, the PMO lost control of the message. The popular senator from Ottawa was running from mobs of media instead of generating funds for the party. He had become a liability to maintaing the all important base.
All deals were over. Past assurances from the PMO and the senate leadership vanished. Like so many Harper loyalists, Duffy was excepted to fall on the sword. His was not to question why or how, just to do and die, like a good soldier.
Those orders work for the true believer but for the mercenary and recently converted, a deal is a deal. Falling on a sword is not a consideration, particularly when you feel you have been sold out.
Duffy it would appear is not a blind partisan zealot. He always could smell the rotten apple. The emergence of his expense file in the PMO appears to support his contention that they knew what he was claiming. They also show he keeps meticulous records.
This now comes down to his word vs the Prime Minister. We have seen this scenario play out before. The Chuck Chadman debacle for example. The PM has always dodged the bullet. This time he may have miscalculated. If Duffy can prove a fraction of his story he will bring Harper's calculated and corrupt reign to an end.
It is ironic that the man who destroyed Michael Ignatieff's image and cemented the Conservatives elusive majority may take Harper down.
It will be even more ironic if the source of Harper's downfall is the Senate,an institution he has spent a lifetime trying to abolish.
This time the incontrovertible facts may define the realistic perception of Stephen Harper amongst his base, his caucus and the Canadian Public.
It may be too early to pop the cork and celebrate but it nice to see these bastards sweat!
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