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Sunday, June 24, 2012

By crying wolf about `abuse` NDP`s Horvath does a disservice to women in politics

Politics is a tough business.

It`s not for the thin-skinned. It gets personal, it gets nasty, and the higher up you go,  the meaner it gets and that is how things have been since democracy began in ancient Greece.

Ontario NDP leader Horvath
For a politician to succeed, they have to be able to project strength and fortitude. So it was a bit of surprise last week when Andrea Horvath, the Ontario NDP leader, made a point of her own weakness and inability to  withstand pressure by accusing Premier Dalton McGuinty of `workplace abuse`and `bullying` because his Liberal MPPs criticized her demands for passing the budget and her personally.

Welcome to the big leagues, Ms Horvath,  And in her first big match up at the plate, she struck out with no balls. 

Aside from blinking when McGuinty threatened an election rather than enacting her amendments to his Budget, she embarrassed herself and her party by suggesting that her political rivals criticism of her was a form of workplace abuse and mistreatment. When making the nonsensical allegation, she even went so far as to engage in ludicrous theatrics by having her staff hand out postcards to reporters citing a Woman Abuse Research Consortium website on the impact of verbal abuse and other mistreatment in the workplace

Too bad she couldn`t squeeze out a few crocodile tears for added effect. 

The implication being that women can't handle the rough ant tumble world of professional politics at the same level as men, which as anyone who's seen Margaret Thatcher of Hillary Clinton in action knows couldn't be further from the truth. But it does appear to be the case with Ms. Horvath.

Compared to some of the insults politicians regularly endure, the Liberals saying she is `not to be trusted` and she `betrayed a deal`` are pretty mild. If those minor barbs were too much for Horvath to handle, imagine how she`s fold like a house of cards if she came under real pressure. 

Actually, you don`t have to imagine;  it`s a matter of public record

It`s unfortunate that we live in a time and a place of societal self-absorption, where anyone who disagrees with you is a `bully`and the highest status one can achieve is that of `victim.` 

We have a right to expect better than that from those who aspire to lead and make decisions for the public. 

I`ve argued before that attack ads, decried by some, are in fact a critical and necessary component of the political process. If a politician can`t withstand criticism from relatively benign domestic rivals, imagine how poorly they would  represent their constituents` interests when facing a real foreign adversary.  

The ability to withstand pressure is a process that weeds out politicians who aren`t up to the task of leadership.  Ms Horvath`s petulance and whining to the media in the face of that pressure showed where she falls in that process.

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