There’s an old idea in football that when one arrives in the end zone, one should eschew the typical dancing and “act like you’ve been there before”—a quote attributed variously to any number of old and grouchy football coaches. The point being that true confidence doesn’t require theatric expression.
By this standard, it is almost impossible to believe the Conservative members of the ethics committee are at all sure of their party’s position. At times yesterday they seemed alternately petulant, boorish, bitter, frustrated, childish, dismissive, unhinged, giddy, patronizing, exasperated, arrogant, chastened, indignant, whiny, angry, snarky, mocking, snide, sarcastic, bored, scared and threatening. (And that’s just Gary Goodyear.)
There was pointing and finger-wagging and flopping and laughing and bellowed condemnation. Every point was made with the approximate subtlety of setting one’s hair on fire. Indeed, Pat Martin seemed restrained by comparison. And, as a general rule, Pat Martin’s relative level of restraint should be considered the minimum expectation for everyone else in the area.
It’s of course been said quite often that this government has not yet stopped playing the part of Her Majesty’s opposition. And, for sure, more than a decade in exile makes for difficult habits to break. But that line doesn’t fully explain the obvious insecurities of this bunch. By all indication, they generally consider themselves the smartest guys in the room. But then they seem equally sure that all earthly forces are aligned against them. The result is sort of smug martyrdom complex, if such a thing is possible.
It makes for quite the show, the sort of desperate, bizarre displays one might otherwise expect to see moderated by Maury Povich. But it doesn’t lead one to believe that these are the guys who are in the right. It neither instills nor demonstrates confidence.
Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that. No doubt it speaks to any number of those ardent supporters who haven’t quite tired of raging against Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program. But for a governing party, there is surely something to be said for acting like you’ve been there before. And, for that matter, acting like you plan on being back.