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Gaffe of the week: Stupidity is stupidity, whether you’re Tom Lukiwski or Jeffrey Simpson

One of the stranger excretions during the Lukiwski news cycle arrived yesterday courtesy the Globe’s big-foot national affairs columnist, Jeffrey Simpson. In avoiding discussing the actual issue—and the content of the tape at the centre of it, in which MP Tom Lukiwski takes a rather dim view of gay men—Simpson combines a sort of boys-will-be-boys apologia with an extended swipe at the NDP. To wit:

The New Democratic Party has a streak of nastiness that does the party no credit.

Other parties have their nasty streaks that make politics unappealing to participants and observers alike. But they don’t have the NDP’s overweening sense of moral superiority and righteousness that clash with the NDP’s self-congratulatory high-mindedness….

Who among this column’s readers did not say things privately 17 years ago that, if published today, might cause embarrassment? Two apologies ought to close this Lukiwski matter, but not in this kind of political culture.

Let him without sin cast the first stone, the Bible says.

Admirable CCFers and NDPers from the social gospel tradition, who actually read the Book, once brought its teachings to politics. They would appear to be gone.

Between these opening and closing sentences, Simpson catalogues all sorts of instances wherein the federal NDP moralized, in his view, for political gain. All of which is fine if you’re writing for, say, the Daily Worker or your high school newspaper.

Taking political advantage from the moral high ground is what politicians and political parties do—no one more or less than the other. And complaining about it seems just a titch beside the point. The amazing thing to me is that Tom Lukiwski, in the midst of a political campaign, in an office full of politicos, stood in front of a camera and said the things he said. (I love Simpson’s assertion there was mitigation in that Lukiwski said this garbage “in private.” What? Because the camera was privately owned?) To butcher a phrase, “it’s the stupidity, stupid.”

Sadly, I’ve watched the entire tape, and lots of Lukiwski’s peers at the time were, even in a relatively unguarded moment, clearly aware that there was a camera in front of them—some more than others. But here’s the thing: they all didn’t end up in Parliament. This idiot did, and to pretend that he’s the victim here is to insult only moderately stupid people everywhere.

• Will someone please explain where the NDP gets its moral superiority? [Globe and Mail]

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