In golf, a "kick in" is a term used to describe a putt so short, so simple, it can't be missed.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a "kick in" yesterday, following Afghan leader Karzai's musings about joining the Taliban.
Mr. Karzai was probably playing to his local political constituency. The families of those whose lives have been sacrificed to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban can only hope that is the case, and even then the callousness of the remark will be painful.
For U.S. President Barack Obama, the comments were a rough setback. Many in his country wonder about the wisdom of his "doubling down" strategy, unsure if al-Qaeda is much of a threat in Afghanistan anymore, uncertain if the Taliban can really be beaten, uncertain how much treasure and life should be added to what has already been expended.
Here in Canada the remarks provide even more political cover for a government that would rather not affront the U.S. President, but doesn't want to extend our participation either. Mr. Karzai's musings not only make it easier to down weapons, but make it harder to argue for a continued humanitarian support.
The substantive issues of what happens in that country are obviously the most important questions here, but there was also another partisan political angle.
Mr. Harper spotted a moment where a message from Canadian leaders would generate interest, and he moved, delivering a message that will resonate well with most Canadians. It wasn't a hard choice, or a complicated one, it was a "kick in".
With plenty of insight into these issues and a lot of political skin invested in the question of Canadian policy on Afghanistan, Michael Ignatieff could have been out in front of Mr. Harper in expressing Canada's dismay at the comments. Instead, it seems he released a statement commemorating the genocide in Rwanda. No doubt a worthy position, but in the heat of our short, brutal election campaigns, missing such unexpected chances to connect with voters and their values, can come at a stiff political price.