Watching Martin perform during this campaign, especially since the Conservatives haves forged ahead, I am left with the impression that his disposition reveals a tired, spent politican. The passion seems forced, the ideas crafted, but lacking geniune desire, and an almost general disinterest that is palpable.
This is Martin's last hurrah, his political career on the line, as well as his place in history. If you asked Martin if he was giving it his all, surely he would say yes with conviction, but his body language defies him. I expected Martin to ramp it up for the debates, and while he showed glimmers of passion, overall he looked unsure and apprehensive.
Election campaigns are like sport. It could be that Martin is fading due to the grind and maybe his age robs him of his zeal. Whatever the reason, this Paul Martin shows little resemblence to the Paul Martin that challenged Chretien, or ably took the helm when finance minister. Martin doesn't portray the same self confidence or competence for that matter. Harper on the other hand looks more relaxed and confident with each passing day, reinvigorated by the process.
Martin's poor performance thus far does give credence to the notion that it really is time for the Liberals to go into opposition, clean house and morph back into a party with passion. As we get closer to the vote, the reality of what a Conservative mandate may mean is all the more frightening. I want nothing to do with their policies, their masquerade of moderation and I think we will all suffer in having extremists at the helm. However, Martin is offering little to counter the notion that his time is past. Faced with electoral elimination, Martin hasn't really mustered the heart to fight like he needs too. You could almost ask the question, do you want it or not?
I keep waiting for the Liberals to turn it around, I still believe voters could return. But, the electorate needs a reason to counter the obvious shortcomings, and sadly the Liberals under Martin look like a broken government. Tick, tock.