There's a certain kind of wild sense in this. Banging your kneecap with a hammer will temporarily downgrade a headache. But is it really possible that the government is fanning the ashes of a previous scandal to keep from getting burned by a current one? If it is, then it is way past bedtime for everyone concerned. But if the public agenda is one scandal or pseudo-scandal after another, what tactic remains? Still, even if true, it's a very dim move. The public is weary of scandals, petty or otherwise.
Even the rollicking saga of the Foreign Minister and The Biker Girl, though considerably more titillating than, say, the Schreiber-Mulroney hearings, hasn't really seized the public's attention. Were it not for the contribution made by Julie Couillard's considerable embonpoint - cleavage is catnip for a vigilant press - I doubt Maxime Bernier's carelessness would have earned the profile it has.
Canadian politics has grown tired and stale. The storyline has been the same for more than half a year. The trumpets sound for some grand drama, the press jam the hearing rooms, there are a few days of headlines, a river of comment, and then - and then, either an inquiry is promised, another committee is struck, or the next hot item is pushed on stage.
It's understandable. After all, scandals are a proven shortcut to power.
An opposition party can pole-vault from the deepest valley of the polls to the highest summit of power, given the right scandal. They save a lot of hard work, like elaborating a platform, engaging voters on the issues, building a team. Small wonder then that opposition parties with little else to summon the public interest latch on to them with the fury of a drowning man grabbing a passing twig.
Also, scandal, or the whiff of it, takes a government off its game. Poor Paul Martin had close to his entire term consumed with the aftermath and management of the sponsorship debacle. Mr. Martin was really never able to walk out of the grimy fog of the sponsorship mess - because that distraction was so massive - to exploit the very real esteem so many Canadians had extended him right up to the moment he assumed office.
In one sense, the chain of lesser scandals and incompetencies that have plagued the Harper government actually flow from that charged period. Having been so righteous and prosecutorial during the sponsorship affair, the Harper team framed the exacting expectations of integrity and accountability it is now being measured against. They set the dynamic in motion: Nail mercilessly and mercilessly shall ye be nailed. A party evangelistic about standards of honesty and open dealing while in opposition is constructing a scaffold for itself, should its conduct in government be less than pristine. Thus the pool of sympathy for the Tories as they wander from the accusatory monologues of Karlheinz Schreiber, through the Cadman allegations, to Mr. Bernier's skipping the light fantastic with a former belle of the bikers is a shallow and rapidly evaporating one.
But, and perhaps not strangely, while the attacks do weaken the government, and increasingly subtract from some of the public's consistent, if grudging, esteem for the Prime Minister, I don't think, finally, they really help the opposition either.
A sensible recommendation from the opposition, on a real issue - say, gasoline prices - would make a deeper impression and establish more real connection with most voters than the entire six months of scandal management. The cost of fuel is the liveliest issue in all of Canada. Ontario is in upheaval over GM's latest closing. Tourists are staying away in droves.
Every taxi driver and every trucker in the country is in an agony of anxiety and on a marathon of overtime merely to keep up. I can easily imagine how Canada's older citizens, on limited and fixed incomes, are looking on the cost of heating and lighting their homes, and staring down at the winter to come. Most small businesses are in a torment as their already thin margins of profit are devoured by the surge in fuel prices. Driving costs more. The once-a-year vacation flights to visit family cost more. Essentials cost more. In short, everyday life is, for very many Canadians, much more of a wrestle than it was just a year ago.
In the light of such real concerns, the surgery done, or alleged to have been done, to the Cadman tape, and yes, even the triumphant frontage of Ms. Couillard, while both may mesmerize the wise men in the spin room, are vastly irrelevant. They are tokens of an exhausted Parliament.