Bloggers turn their attention north of the border, where Canada’s Conservative Party ousted the ruling Liberals in parliamentary elections. Also, bloggers examine the Bush administration’s media blitz in defense of the eavesdropping campaign, as well as Antonin Scalia’s decision to play tennis instead of attending John Roberts’ Supreme Court swearing-in.
Tory! Tory! Tory! Conservative Stephen Harper will become Canada’s new prime minister, signaling a significant shift in Canadian politics. After 12 years of Liberal Party rule, Conservatives won the most ridings (or seats) of any party in the House of Commons—124 of 308 in Monday’s election. But because they fell well short of a majority, Harper’s new government may face gridlock.
Nevertheless, the mood was celebratory at Captain’s Quarters, where Ed Morrissey’s right-leaning blog has been on top of the Canadian political developments for months. “One day, both major North American governments may stop treating their citizens like children, but only when those citizens demand an end to parental government handouts,” Morrissey writes. “I think Canada took a major step in that direction last night, which is one of the reasons why live-blogging the historical election turned out to be such a remarkable experience.”
Across the Web, righty bloggers congratulated Morrissey for aiding the Conservative cause. CQ ran a live blog on election night and regularly posted on Canadian politics going back to November, when a Liberal corruption scandal led to a parliamentary no-confidence vote and these elections. Canadian artist Kate McMillan at Small Dead Animals puts it in perspective: “His role was important, but it is more appropriate to credit him with exposing the Canadian blogosphere to a broader Canadian audience. … But it was NDP leader Jack Layton who ‘brought down’ the Canadian government, not Ed.”
Reaction is split predictably along ideological lines. “Another weak government with little popular mandate,” liberal Daily Kos’Markos Moulitsas huffs, referring to the lack of a majority. But Canadian blogger Andrew Coyne sees this as the beginning of the end for the Liberal Party: “Empires do not end, typically, in revolution. They dissolve by stages. The decline and fall of the Roman Empire took hundreds of years. The Liberal empire has taken two elections, and may take a third. But it is going, if not gone.”
The new government is expected to bring Canada closer to the United States, since Martin was critical of American trade policies and the Bush administration’s rejection of the Kyoto accord. But Robert Mayer of right-leaning Publius Pundit warns that the Conservatives shouldn’t get carried away: “Canada remains an ultimately liberal nation in that regard and many certainly take pride in that. This victory was handed to them in large degree because of corruption in the ruling party, so the Conservatives should definitely take the hint and clean up the government and implement other system reforms. Pushing a social agenda that very likely the majority of the country opposes will result in an election loss that will lead to promised reforms being lost.”
Spy games: The Bush administration is aggressively defending the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping program. On Monday, President Bush gave his longest public explanation yet of the controversial operation, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales invoked George Washington’s reading of captured mail during the Revolutionary War during a separate speech.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, the deputy director of national intelligence, also defended the program—either commendably or pathetically, depending upon which blogger was listening.
“In General Hayden’s outstanding presentation at the National Press Club yesterday,” writes Scott Johnson at conservative Power Line, “I was most struck by his response to one of the questions regarding the putative harm wrought by the New York Times’s disclosure of the NSA surveillance program applicable to al Qaeda-related communications.” (Said Hayden: “Public discussion of how we determine al Qaeda intentions, I just—I can’t see how that can do anything but harm the security of the nation.”)
Political Animal Kevin Drum at left-leaning Washington Monthly has a quite different take. “Here’s another point related to General Hayden’s admission today that the NSA’s domestic spying program isn’t some kind of dazzling high tech black op, but merely garden variety wiretapping that was done outside normal FISA channels …Administration apologists have argued that the White House couldn’t seek congressional approval for this program because it utilized super advanced technology that we couldn’t risk exposing to al-Qaeda. But now we know that’s not true.”
Meanwhile, liberal TalkLeft proudly discloses that a criminal defense lawyer—TalkLeft commenter and reader Terry Kindlon—has filed a motion to dismiss criminal charges against one of his clients in connection with the warrantless electronic monitoring program. Kindlon’s contention is that the government’s investigation of Yassin Aref, accused along with Mohammed Hossain of involvement in a plot to sell missile launchers to terrorists, originated from a spying program that may be illegal.
Read more about the eavesdropping program.
Tennis, anyone? While John Roberts was being sworn in as chief justice of the Supreme Court— and while every other member of the court was in attendance—Antonin Scalia was playing tennis at a swank Colorado resort hotel, ABC News breathlessly reports. The story suggested that Scalia’s absence had the appearance both of a snub and of an ethical conflict, since Scalia was attending a legal seminar sponsored by the Federalist Society.
Orin Kerr at legal-eagle group blog Volokh Conspiracy is just shocked. “It remains unclear whether Justice Scalia will have to step down from the Supreme Court or face impeachment, as no Justice has ever missed a hearing as critical as a swearing-in ceremony before,” he writes, tongue firmly in cheek. “Some scholars argue that having missed Roberts’ swearing-in ceremony, Scalia lacks the qualifications to vote on cases heard by the Roberts Court.”
Seriously, though, “I completely fail to see the controversy,” writes Tom Goldstein on SCOTUSblog. “The Federalist Society does not litigate cases. It does not (so far as I know) even take positions on judicial nominees. Events like these are similar to those hosted by the American Constitution Society, which more liberal Justices attend. These events strike me as very valuable because they expose more people to the Justices, and vice versa.”
Read more about the Scalia “controversy.”