I was going to comment on this earlier but Josh Marshall beat me to it. However, Marshall's touchingly rational take on the US, through Ambassador David Wilkins, butting into Canada's election forgets that under the Bush Administration one can safely invert the old maxim about not ascribing to malice what one can more easily ascribe to incompetence. Marshall assumes that Wilkins, an honorary Brownie, was shooting from the hip. The more likely truth is that this particular bright idea came directly from the Boy Genius or one of his minions:
Observers of Mr. Wilkins's long career in South Carolina politics, where he served as the powerful Assembly Speaker before being appointed ambassador last summer, say his outburst on Tuesday was likely planned and approved by a White House increasingly irritated by a Prime Minister's Office anxious to exploit differences with Washington for political gain.
"This isn't Condi Rice. I don't think she cares that much," said one Canadian official, who thinks the "cowboys" at the White House were whispering into Mr. Wilkins's ear.
U.S. officials have been watching Mr. Martin's electioneering with increasing frustration and were particularly upset by two related events last week -- former president Bill Clinton's last-minute appearance at the Montreal climate-change conference and the apparently deliberate leaking of the fact that the White House chastised Ambassador Frank McKenna last week over Mr. Martin's climate-change stand.
The predictable effect has been to give Paul Martin a shot in the arm against Conservative Stephen Harper:
Stephen Clarkson, a professor political economy, argues the White House has set its sights on regime change for the first time in North America since John Kennedy's battle with former PM John Diefenbaker in 1963. With supporters from the National Rifle Association to Friends of the Family taking a public stance against recent Canadian policy, Prof. Clarkson argues the Bush administration is looking for a change on Parliament Hill.
But unlike in the days of JFK, he predicts such a move will surely backfire
Unlike Mr. Kennedy, The Bush administration is extremely unpopular in Canada. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 75 per cent of Canadians say they have a less favourable view of the U.S. since Mr. Bush's re-election.
But, Prof. Clarkson says such a stance will surely give the Liberals a boost.
Well, duh. In fact, it's some measure of the Administration's popularity up here that when Harper was flatteringly described in a Washington Times op-ed (A Gift from Canada?) as "pro-free trade, pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto, and socially conservative", he felt compelled to distance himself in a letter to the Times from all four positions.
You'd think that, having fallen into Osama's trap, bogging the US down in two wars in the Middle East and inflaming Muslim opinion against it, Bush would have thought twice about letting vengeance hand such an obvious gift to a political nemesis (no matter how difficult it is to imagine the bland Martin as anyone's bete noir). This time, we can at least say, Thanks, Georgie.