Yes, you might well have thought that.

But recall Richard Nixon's behavior for his second election.

As anyone knew then, he pretty well (sadly) had being re-elected a certainty.

His opponent was one of the most honorable men ever to run for the presidency, but being honorable in America is little more than a sign of weakness to many: it is, after all, a country organized and administered on principles of Social Darwinism.

So despite the near-certainty of a win, Richard Nixon had a gang of thugs doing break-ins, smear-jobs, and was seeking secret contributions by the sack-full. The White House was staffed up with unpleasant men ready to do anything for their leader.

He ended, of course, by ending his own presidency.

The general frame of mind of Richard Nixon at that time is a close parallel to Harper's today.

There are the clearest elements of paranoia, immense anger, relish for frat-boy dirty tricks, and a tendency towards monomania - all the stuff we saw with Richard Nixon and stuff we've seen again with the likes of a Newt Gingrich or Tom Delay.

Harper is a genuinely sick puppy.

Sometimes it happens that people who were known as narrow ideologues do rise to the office to which they are elected or appointed (in the case of judges), but not this kind of unbalanced personality.

I'm afraid so long as Harper holds his office we will continue to see Canadian political traditions of decency and ethical behavior eroded.

"Autocracy verging on dictatorship..... Don't agree? Just wait and watch!"


But the fault is also in a political system where a man of Harper's unpleasant character, once given a technical majority 39.6% of the vote, can pretty well do anything, if he is so inclined.

We have not suffered from this serious flaw in our political structure before only because we have not been so unfortunate to have a man of Harper's almost demonic personality in office.

Canada suffers from a democratic deficit as serious as that of many other countries one does not normally associate with the goodwill Canada has enjoyed internationally for decades.

Harper of course also realizes that his opposition is divided hopelessly, and he will take the fullest advantage of that fact.

Tyrannical-oriented personalities always have used the principle of "divide and conquer" in their governing. Hitler ran the Third Reich by creating a whole series of competing fiefdoms whose chiefs endlessly squabbled, having recourse only to Hitler himself, floating as it were above the ugly turmoil.

It is an effective method, at least for a time, if your concern is not with the people of a country but with your personal rule.

I'm certainly not suggesting any relationship between Harper and Hitler - only the parallel of the way a power-driven dark personality operates to hold power.

Well, the Liberal Party handed Harper this situation on a platter. Twice they turned down a very intelligent and effective politician, Bob Rae, on the basis that there were bad memories in Ontario of aspects of his premiership but also on the basis of a genuinely stupid effort by some back-room boys to parachute Michael Ignatieff into the leadership, a man of almost unparalleled political ineptitude.

Now they've given Bob Rae the job (temporarily), but it is a hopeless way to give someone a big job: the party is in pathetic shape, Rae looks without genuine support, and he is just that much older.

Jack Layton's magnificent triumph in Quebec was in large part because the Liberals had Ignatieff hopelessly droning and sputtering. Quebec always admires genuinely eloquent men: just look at the record of leaders in the PQ or the BQ, some of the greatest firebrand speakers of our time.

So Harper's current position is almost more an accident than a personal achievement, but here is a man whose dark animal cunning will seize every advantage he can from the luck of the draw.