With the exception of some of the loons who regularly haunt the comments section below this space, you are a sane person.
And, being sane, you haven’t paid any attention to the federal NDP’s leadership contest. Who can blame you? The New Democrats seemingly have more leadership candidates than they do caucus members.
The race is boring. Most of the contestants are nobodies, and that’s putting it nicely. And all of them, to a one, lack Jack Layton’s charisma. So why bother to pay attention?
Well, if you don’t, rest assured: The Conservative Research Group (CRG) will happily do it for you.
The CRG is the innocuous-sounding appellation for the dozens of neatly barbered young Conservatives who toil in a government office building on Queen Street in downtown Ottawa. They’ve been around since 2006, when Conservative Leader Stephen Harper set up the office under the tutelage of his capable communications director-to-be, Sandra Buckler.
From the start, CRG apparatchiks have done a good job. They are swift, they are deadly, and they are relentless. Most notably, they made miserable the lives of successive Liberal leaders — Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff in particular. And, now, the CRG are getting to work on the many folks vying for the NDP leadership.
Evidence of this was found yesterday in the much-read Parliament Hill weekly, The Hill Times. In a semi-regular column, the Conservatives’ Tim Powers, the New Democrats’ Karl Belanger and I go at each other. For the past few years, the CRG’s appointed talking head, Tim, has typically targeted my Grits. No longer.
In the column, Tim launched a broadside against the NDP. What he said wasn’t all that novel — he correctly pointed out that the willingness of assorted Dipper leadership candidates to tax us more isn’t much of a get-elected strategy. What I find interesting, instead, is that the CRG has now targeted Karl’s beloved NDP.
It follows a tried-and-true methodology, too. The CRG will throw punches at the various contenders for the NDP leadership, but nothing lethal. Mostly, they’ll just clip and catalogue every word the candidates utter (and quite a few they don’t) between now and March.
And then, once the leader is picked, they’ll swing down on the NDP like a snarling pack of ravenous jackals, which they closely resemble.
Offshore websites. Libelous statements in the privileged forum of the Commons.
Nasty brown envelope stuff about the candidate as well as his/her family.
Tax records. Unsourced videos. And, natch, wildly-out-of-context quotes (or made-up quotes) for radio and TV ads.
That’s their M.O. They’re not subtle, they’re not original, but they are convinced it’ll work. Because it worked against Iggy and Dion.
Here’s why it worked: Iggy and Dion didn’t respond. Or, if they did, they responded too late.
It’s not in this Grit’s partisan interest to give free advice to Karl’s NDP, but here it is. Clip it out and tape it to the fridge door.
1. Rip their faces off, first.
2. Leave no charge unanswered.
3. Rip their faces off, again. Make them cry like babies.
That’s it. That’s the politics we’ve got, now, thanks to Mr. Harper et al.
It’s sink or swim, Team Dipper. Welcome to the big leagues.