Reading Andrew Coyne’s column in Thursday’s Leader-Post says a lot more about Andrew Coyne than the subject he talks about. It’s also a perfect example of how ‘magical thinking’ and ‘truthiness’ has corrupted political thought.
A bit of background. In the Ontario provincial election, Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak says his party’s platform will create a million jobs in his first term. The problem is, as Jim Stanford has pointed out, Hudak’s proposal has one big flaw: his math is off. By confusing years of employment with permanent jobs, Hudak’s math is off by a factor of eight.
When confronted with this fact, not just by Stanford but by many major economists, Hudak says they’re wrong and he’s right, though he won’t say where those economists are wrong and his data is right. And when confronted with this, Andrew Coyne says, in effect, so what if Hudak is wrong? He sounds right, and that’s good enough not only for me but also for the province of Ontario.
Usually a candidate who can’t ensure that his staff are capable of doing basic math is a laughingstock, consigned to the dustbin of history. That may yet still happen with Tim Hudak, since the election campaign has about a week or two to run.
But Hudak seems to have a lot of political enablers, just as Rob Ford did. Enablers such as Coyne. The whole concept of ‘truthiness’, as Stephen Colbert explained, is the idea of wanting something to be true, whether or not it is true. Even though, for example, the New York Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup semi-finals, there’s probably a few Habs fans dreaming of what Rue Ste. Catherines would be like with a Stanley Cup parade next month. Hudak is the political equivalent of someone pandering to that fantasy, and Coyne is one of those doing the fantasizing.
Someone who isn’t competent enough to understand basic mathematical mistakes shound’t be premier of a province, that goes without saying. A newspaper columnist who endorses a political leader who makes those mistakes because the candidate is saying things the columnist wants to hear is not a credible columnist.