Musings —04.05.2011 06:00 AM—
- How are the Conservatives doing in this campaign? Not well, as I’ve written for the past week. Every day, it seems, events conspire – through bad luck, through Liberal/NDP/Bloc war room hijinks, through sheer Conservative war room/campaign incompetence – to derail the Reformatory message of the day. When you consider how disciplined and focused the Cons were in 2004, 2006 and 2008, it’s pretty surprising. Here’s the anatomy of one day, yesterday, that again went awry.
- Ethics: In the wake of the sponsorship affair, the Conservatives solemnly promised to hold themselves a higher ethical standard. In fairness, they haven’t had an sponsorship-sized scandals yet (although In and Out mess, I suspect, will come very close). In recent months, however, we’ve seen one demi-scandal after another. The latest, of course, involves senior PMO advisor Bruce Carson and his associate, a former call girl. Carson had a lengthy criminal record and had been disbarred; apparently, this didn’t impair his ability to work for Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney or Stephen Harper. In the latter case, we were told yesterday, Carson disclosed his criminal record to Harper’s Chief of Staff. Harper, for his part, asked us to believe that no one told him. He concluded the day, plaintively, with this wonderfully circular claim: “I don’t know why I did not know.” Net result: Harper’s message of the day was, yet again, hijacked by members of his own team.
- Messaging/Visuals: Speaking of messaging, anyone know what Harper’s message of the day was, Monday? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? I can tell you what Harper wanted it to be, but what you actually remember is his absurdly comic spin on an ATV, wearing a helmet that made him resemble that irritating, macrocephalic alien on The Flintstones. His message, meanwhile, was about scrapping the long gun registry, yet again – but what we got was the Great Gazoo on an ATV, plus some old guy who had a record, and an escort who knew more members of cabinet than Hill and Knowlton. For a guy hunting, as it were, for a majority – and thereby in desperate need of female votes – why the Hell start fulminating, angrily, against gun control? When gun control is, you know, very popular with women both urban and rural? Net result: a mangled message, at best. Lost votes, at worst.
- Opposition: The damned Liberals, meanwhile, had another good day. They handed out 600,000 abbreviated copies of their platform to morning commuters from coast to coast, Ignatieff himself getting in on the fun with paper-deliveries to startled ferry-riders in Dartmouth. Later, they had a pithy line – “vets, not jets” – and managed to look patriotic and parsimonious at the same time. Net result: they kicked Harper’s keester.
- The backrooms: Coincidentally, here’s what I had to say on that very subject in this moning’s Sun: “Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and his caucus, of course, have been doing very well on the campaign trail. But among unelected Grits, it is Richardson and Ashworth who have made the most difference. From the time of their arrival in Ottawa, Richardson and Ashworth have firmly taken control, and gently moved aside many of the ineffectual, self-absorbed senior staffers Ignatieff had around him (that is, the ones who took the party even lower than Stephane Dion did). The pair have given the Liberal Party’s efforts a maturity and strategic sense that, until just a few weeks ago, it simply didn’t have.”
- The people: Think I’m wrong? I often am, but check out the latest Nanos. The Conservative campaign is losing ground outside the West, big time.
- Pic of the day: I’m sorry, this one of the Great Gazoo is a classic. Caption contest!
Logan Day, come home. All is forgiven.