Friday, November 01, 2013
Is Stephen Harper On the Ropes? Why Has Duffy Stopped Punching?
Stephen Harper doesn't give the impression that he's in dire straits but then again, when you're surrounded by jackals of your own making, it's a bad idea to let them smell fear.
Still, judging by media accounts, Shifty's homegrown nemesis, Mike Duffy, is winning the credibility war with the Canadian public.
Shifty Steve has not been helping himself. He can't even keep his lies straight, changing his story as time passes. Most of us realize that someone who inexplicably keeps changing his story is, well, lying. We have that pretty much figured out before we leave high school.
To make matters worse, Shifty relies on nothing more than bare denials or awkwardly tries to change the subject. That doesn't work for many people either.
Duffy, on the other hand, has a competing account that comports with the known facts. That's always a good thing when somebody is accusing you of bad things. That doesn't make him endearing or even particularly likable but this isn't a popularity contest. It's a credibility contest between Mike Duffy and Shifty Steve Harper. Liking is not an issue.
Duffy also has a little something else. He has documents - memos, e-mails, cheque stubs and that sort of thing. So far they also seem to corroborate Duffy's narrative, not Shifty's. Duffy has already tossed out a few documents, the "tip of the iceberg" he claims, and promises more to come. His lawyer, senior criminal counsel Don Bayne, says there are documents that tie Shifty directly to the under-the-table cash deal between Duffy and Nigel Wright.
This is where Duffy is beginning to become somewhat less likable. If he has smoking gun documents, as Duffy and his lawyer (and others) claim, why isn't he producing them? The public is already accepting Duffy's credibility over Shifty's.
Any prize fighter who has his opponent on the ropes as Duffy plainly does goes in for the kill. Documents with Shifty's fingerprints all over them would be the haymaker Duffy needs to put the prime minister down for the count. So what exactly is the Cavendish Cottager waiting for?
It strikes me that, once you have announced you have the goods on the other guy, it all begins to look fishy when you keep that to yourself. Duffy has claimed he was extorted, by threat of losing his Senate seat if he balked, into accepting what would seem to have been a cash bribe with strings and inducements attached. Yet by not releasing the smoking gun documents it creates the impression that Duffy might be using them for some sort of shakedown of his own.
Ask yourself what awaits Mike Duffy at the end of this scandal? He's hopelessly damaged goods. He'll be Typhoid Mike within Conservative circles. He's burned his bridges to the only paying job he ever knew. Hard to imagine anyone opening up a pundit slot for Old Duff. Money, apparently, is still a big issue. He's got a hefty mortgage on his modest house and just about zero in the bank (how that happened after so many years at CBC and CTV is unclear). Mike seems to be staring into the abyss of penury. For a high flyer like Duffy that's got to be alarming.
Could he be trying the back channels to shop those documents to some newsie outfit for an exclusive? Is he hoping there might be a book in this? Is he scouting around for a highest bidder?
It might do well for Duffy to realize that, for many if not most Canadians, he's become "my enemy's enemy" and that carries a few drawbacks also. If he really wants to distance himself from Harper, it's getting time to put up or shut up.