“Warren Kinsella's book, ‘Fight the Right: A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse,’ is of vital importance for American conservatives and other right-leaning individuals to read, learn and understand.”
- The Washington Times
“One of the best books of the year.”
- The Hill Times
“Justin Trudeau’s speech followed Mr. Kinsella’s playbook on beating conservatives chapter and verse...[He followed] the central theme of the Kinsella narrative: “Take back values. That’s what progressives need to do.”
- National Post
“[Kinsella] is a master when it comes to spinning and political planning...”
- George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC TV
“Kinsella pulls no punches in Fight The Right...Fight the Right accomplishes what it sets out to do – provide readers with a glimpse into the kinds of strategies that have made Conservatives successful and lay out a credible roadmap for progressive forces to regain power.”
- Elizabeth Thompson, iPolitics
“[Kinsella] deserves credit for writing this book, period... he is absolutely on the money...[Fight The Right] is well worth picking up.”
- Huffington Post
“Run, don't walk, to get this amazing book.”
- Mike Duncan, Classical 96 radio
“Fight the Right is very interesting and - for conservatives - very provocative.”
- Former Ontario Conservative leader John Tory
“His new book is great! All of his books are great!”
- Tommy Schnurmacher, CJAD
“I absolutely recommend this book.”
- Paul Wells, Maclean’s
“Kinsella puts the Left on the right track with new book!”
First things first. Lots of commentary this morning on the issue of refugees and immigrants, for very good reasons. Lots of the commentary seems to be steeped in emotion, however, and not so much facts. So, courtesy of CBC, here are some facts, published months before the current crisis. What you will see there is a mixed bag: wherever you are on the issue of accepting new people to this country, the Conservative government has done some things that are good, and some things that aren’t.
No one else is clothed in glory on this issue, either. The Syrian refugee crisis has been a crisis for a long time – I wrote about it two years ago, in fact, and was mad at Justin Trudeau for talking only about marijuana, and not the Syrian crisis. Two years ago last week, I wrote: “[The Syrian crisis and its impact on children] are the things that matter. Those are the things that should be dominating the public agenda. Those are the things that, to put a fine point on it, we have yet to hear about from Justin Trudeau, who aspires to be prime minister of Canada, for Pete’s sake.” The media haven’t paid much attention to the issue, either: as one panel recently heard,“the invisibility of immigrant voices in media breeds misconceptions.” And the Conservatives? Well, they’ve had Chris Alexander running the issue for them, and he is arguably the worst immigration minister we have had in a long time. The evidence is pretty conclusive.
Bottom line? The political manipulations will continue, and all the political parties will engage in them. The image of Aylan will fade from memory. The electorate will move on to the next big story. But the crisis wrought by Assad and ISIS – and which has been happening for years – will continue.
Words are about information. Pictures are about emotion. Emotion equals power.
Print folks - the ones who pour their souls into writing newspapers and magazines, the ones who craft profound essays for blogs, the ones who toil in government offices and conjure up grand speeches – like to believe that words matter still. But, mostly, they don’t.
The people who put together TV newscasts, as well as the best news photographers, have known this truism for a long time, but they’ve kept mostly quiet about it. Perhaps they don’t want to hurt the feelings of their colleagues, who still vainly cling to the belief that the written word can move hearts and minds. But the fact remains that for voters, for citizens, words don’t matter nearly as much as pictures do.
Which brings us to this morning, to two images. One is horrible, the other isn’t. The latter first.
Here is an image of Justin Trudeau in his latest ad.
You’ve probably seen the ad, or commentary about the ad. The link to it is here; no less than CBC takes shots at it here. It “raised eyebrows” and was the butt of jokes, says CBC.
Forget about the fact that it breaks Trudeau’s promise to never go neg. Forget about the continued use of the me/my/I stuff, and not the better “we/Liberal team” language that his predecessors always used. Forget about all that. TV is about pictures, not words. So, watch it with the sound off, as I always advise. Does what you see make Justin Trudeau look prime ministerial? Or does it leave you wondering if he’s a guy who doesn’t know up from down?
That ad is dumb, dumb, dumb. The Liberal campaign has had plenty of dumb ads – this one, in particular, for repeating and promoting the main CPC and NDP attack on the Liberal leader – but the new one is even worse. It visually embodies the main vulnerability of the Liberal campaign – namely, that their leader just isn’t ready because he isn’t serious or experienced or prime ministerial.
Trudeau is a great retail campaigner. He had a good debate. He’s avoided verbal gaffes. But whoever is doing his paid campaign is playing to his weaknesses, not his strengths. Fire them.
Okay, that’s that image. The other one is all over the world, today and yesterday, and you’ve read all about it, too.
His name was Aylan. He was three years old. He drowned in the sea off the coast of Turkey, trying to get to Greece with his family. And the power of that single photograph – which has genuinely shocked the world – will have a profound impact on many, many political fortunes.
Pictures, symbols, images, can reach into people’s hearts, and change the way they look at things. Words like the ones I am typing on this screen can, too, perhaps. But not as much. And, this morning, I’m reminded of an observation by Tatjana Soli, who said that pictures aren’t just accessories to a story – they should contain the entire story within the frame. And these two do.
It’s the economy, stupid, per Carville. And the economy looks not so good, this morning. See assorted pundits here and here and here and here. Worrying news stories here and here and here and here and here.
All that bad news has a political effect, eventually. And, increasingly, it looks like the Conservatives’ principal political opponent may not be the NDP or the LPC – it may be day after day of bad economic headlines.
Does that all matter, though?Per the cliche, isn’t it true that only campaigns matter? Well, in recent years, a small but influential number of university professors have asserted that, well, campaigns don’t really matter at all. People make up their minds about voting choices based on things over which political consultants have no control, they say.
For example: some of these professors have developed mathematical models to track changes in personal income, gross domestic product, and so on, and then predicted campaign winners based upon economic results. Not policy, and certainly not hardball campaign strategy. GDP.
One of the better-known members of the “campaigns don’t matter” school is the much-quoted James E. Campbell, at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He’s a smart guy. Campbell asserts that, as far as he and like-minded thinkers are concerned, the economy is the answer to every question.
Numbers and data assembled by Campbell shows the following: since the Second World War, in eight out of the ten presidential elections where the United States has enjoyed annual GDP of at least 2.5 percent, the incumbent has won. The two exceptions, he allows, were Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey in 1968, whose candidacy was battered by the ongoing Vietnam War, and the Republicans’ Gerald R. Ford in 1976, who was the target of anger for the sins of Watergate and the pardon of Richard Nixon. Until somewhat recently, Campbell was attracting a lot of academic converts.
But. But but but. George W. Bush won when the Clinton/Gore economy had been going well. Stephen Harper won in 2008 just before a cataclysmic global recession – and won a majority when we were barely out of one, in 2011. The economy, therefore, is a question but it may not be the question.
What do you think? Is this thing over already, due to the sagging economy? Or will the best campaign prevail?
The one Maine Sessions Hot Nasties video that wasn’t posted – the song that Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham wants played at his funeral. As no less than Damian has noted, the notion that a couple of sixteen-year-olds (me and Pierre) actually attempted to define life and death in a three-minute punk song is what makes this one different. Weird, but different.
Words below. And Hot Nasties full-on Calgary reunion coming soon.
I think that I know why I don’t give up, I’ll never die: forever doesn’t go beyond next week.
There are things that are inside my head – things I don’t know, things left best unsaid. ‘Cause I am my one and only weakness.
I know that my God is not a white wafer – they must’ve forgot. And I’m not worthy, so I won’t receive.
THIS IS THE SECRET OF IMMORTALITY.
I know that people hate me; they don’t want to die. They never see: life isn’t a Norman Rockwell painting.
No one likes that. I don’t care! I won’t die – dying’s nowhere! They started to the second that they were born.
Did you know that the grass is blue? That the sky is green? They lied to you. This is the secret of immortality.
It’s September. It’s day 30 (by my count, anyway). And that means all of the parties are going to get really edgy, starting today. As the departed Rod Love once said to me: “When the water starts to drying up, all the animals start looking at each other funny.”
In a national political campaign, certain things are ubiquitous. You have a leader. You have a campaign manager and campaign staff. You have fundraisers. You have advertising. You have a war room. You have policy. You have a tour team. You have speech writers. You have security and tech types and loads of other stuff. But the one thing you don’t have is this: unlimited time.
As of today, time is becoming much more precious. As of today, staffers can say: “The vote is taking place next month.” As of today, staffers will peer up at that big campaign calendar on the war room wall, the one with 30 days X’d out, and shake their sleep-deprived heads, knowing that things are about to get really bumpy.
The campaign grid is shrinking, baby. In any winning campaign I’ve worked on – under Jean Chretien/John Rae in Ottawa, or Dalton McGuinty/Don Guy in Toronto – we have had a campaign grid on the wall, indicating when we are having a health care announcement, or a jobs roundtable, or a big rally somewhere, or the launch of our policy book, or whatever. In a winning campaign, what you are doing (and when, and where, and with whom) is always on the grid. (And, naturally, the principal job of any of the war rooms I led for Messrs. Chretien, Rae, McGuinty, Guy was to find out what was on the other side’s campaign grid, and then blow it up.)
As I told one commenter yesterday, I am like most Canadians in this regard.“I’m feeling like most Canadians, to tell you the truth: usually vote Liberal, but wonder if their leader is ready; think Conservatives haven’t been as radical as some predicted, but wonder if they’ve been there too long; can’t warm up to Mulcair if I tried, but appreciate the fact that the Dippers have abandoned a lot of their past radicalism. Oh, and I think the Greens are okay, but I don’t know a lot about them.”
So, all the politicos are going to start looking at each other differently. And – mark my words – with things this tight, and the clock running out, it is going to get vicious. Which, naturally, I (and the much-missed Rod Love) love.