Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Great minds think alike dept.

Me, one week ago:
You are free to accuse me of hopeless naivete, but here's what I think is naive: hoping you can run a pre-election and election campaign without a single one of your candidates or hacks saying something potentially offensive, all the while assuring everyone that you don't have a hidden agenda.

Paul Wells, back page of the new Maclean's:
The Conservative leader seems eager to let the Liberals turn the next election into a referendum on a simple question: "Has Harper purged the nutters?" It's a debate he can't win.

Read the whole thing, of course. The concluding paragraph, well, I couldn't agree more if I had written it for him:
Harper's big mistake, so far, is believing he can bore his way into power. The Liberals have no intention of letting him get that boring. He needs a plan for government that's way more distinct from Grit policy than anything he's managed lately. He needs a team that looks ready to move into the Prime Minister's Office and all those ministers' offices. If the next campaign is about Liberal accusations and Conservative denials, it will end the way the last two did.

Incredible that this still needs pointing out, but: when there's no big differences to talk about, the focus moves to the little differences, which then get blown into big differences. Here's something I wrote on Feb. 19, 2004, which explains my take on this as well as anything:
Stockwell Day attempted to present his major policies and plan for governing (health care, EI, debt & deficit, etc.) as mainstream; similar but different from the Liberals. The conventional wisdom after the 2000 election was that he failed – Ontario voters weren't ready to vote for such a radical change. Incorrect; in fact, he succeeded, too well. Instead of the pundits analyzing a proposed sea change in Canadian government, they were left to seize on his religious beliefs, as well as capital punishment, abortion, and other issues peripheral to the business of governing.
I'm actually starting to wonder if maybe The Monger is right ("Harper's playing possum!"), because if the OLO strategy was determined by a random number generator, it would occasionally appear either politically wise or principled, rather than neither every single time.

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