It appears that one of the key attributes Canada's Conservative backers are missing these days is a sense of humour.
Sure enough, after the recently published picture of Stephen Harper at the Calgary Stampede, Conservative writers and bloggers are using this as more fodder to whine about how awful central Canada is to Western Politicians.
Whether it's clueless goofs like Link Byfield, or rants on Conservative Blogs (which are turning into Alberta Separatist blogs lately), the whine is constant - "How awful Central Canada is to the Alberta politician".
Quit taking it so seriously - geez! I'm actually sympathetic to Harper as far as that picture goes - it's awful, and really, about all you can do is laugh about it. Of course, the commentators are using it as another excuse to whinge about how awful Canada is for Western Canadian leaders. After all, Central Canada laughed Stockwell Day down, as well as Joe Clark. (I will point out that Joe Clark stuck it out beyond anyone's expectations, and became one of Canada's most respected parliamentarians)
Conservative supporters have to grow a sense of humour. My goodness, if I got myself tangled in knots over some of the truly awful pictures of me (anyone who has seen my yearbook photos in the past will remember those - I hated school photographs), I'd be a thoroughly dysfunctional collection of neuroses. (I may be, depending on your perspective)
The best thing the Conservatives could do for themselves is take that picture (awful as it is), and instead of whining about the picture and the inevitable jokes about it, use it to start growing a sense of humour. Okay, your leader doesn't take good pictures - get over it. (It's not like Jean Chretien took good pictures either. (But then again is was some brain-boys in the then PC party that tried to play that in an attack ad, wasn't it) Harper's human - that's a good start.
Now he has to learn to politic a little - and that means more than just putting a "good public show" forward. It means also learning to say what you want to say, and leave some room to maneuver later, should it become necessary. Alberta has been electing its provincial PC party for so long, that politicians from Alberta tend to assume that they can say whatever they wish and pay little or no penalty for it. The rest of Canada is a tad bit different. A little bit of humour would go a long ways.