Saturday, October 04, 2008

Beyond BAD SPIN

I see that the Conservatives are arguing that they've had a platform all along, this is merely a tactical decision to present it at the end of the campaign. Don Martin offers some relative feeble rationalizations for the late platform release, but it's all irrelevant, after the fact, talking points.

Let's look at the timeline here, and it will be provide complete clarity, it will demonstrate that this platform idea was hatched in the debate aftermath, it's a bandaid, it's release was never part of a systematic election strategy.

Here is what we are too believe from the Conservatives, and their apologists. A mere 12 hours after the English debate, wherein Harper was called out directly on his lack of platform, with NO RESPONSE, suddenly a platform exists. That's right, the night before Harper was hammered for the absence of a platform, but he uttered NOTHING, he just sat there and looked at the moderator. According to the spin, the platform release was already on the table, just chess masters waiting for the right moment. If that were TRUE, wouldn't you think Harper would respond in the debate, a half day before the Conservatives leak a platform release of next week.

Here are the exchanges, and I wish I could provide the visuals of Harper too, because it adds to my point:

May:

"Well, where is your platform? Your's is the only party that hasn't released a platform yet in this election, all the other parties have...

Harper:

blank look, no response

----

Layton:

You say you've got a plan, where is it, where's your platform, under the sweater? You haven't presented one in this election, I find that shocking. I can't remember in history when that's happened.

Harper:

Blank stare, dead air, looks to the moderator. No response.


May, and particularly Layton, stomped on Harper's throat and he didn't react, he didn't think to say we have a platform, didn't dawn on him to say we will have news on that tomorrow, nothing, nada, zip. Harper just took it, clean shot, NO RESPONSE both times (I believe it came up again later too). Harper is sitting there with full knowledge of a platform release, and yet he offers no retort. More amazingly, the next morning all his handlers are crowing about this platform that is already in the can, part of a coherent election strategy. Not only doesn't that pass the smell test, it REEKS.

So please spare me this crap spin, this platform was a reaction to the debates, it's damage control and I GUARANTEE people are working on some new elements right now in the war room. Anybody who believes otherwise has to confront a timeline which is really simple common sense.

14 comments:

Demosthenes said...

Yeah, Don's pretty clearly spinning here. He's ascribing all sorts of motives and rationalizations for the Conservatives that don't have any basis outside of Don's own fevered brain.

Look what he's got there, really: the need for secrecy and the problem of broken promises. Well, certainly the need for "secrecy" doesn't mean that you have to deny that a platform even exists. And if a platform is so poorly written as to require that it be edited up to the week before the election, that's the story, as it shows that the party has no real long-term plans and is just muddling along.

(Which is pretty much the case with the Conservatives this time, bizarrely enough.)

I think this shows how much the Post is in the tank for the Tories, though. A real newspaper would have spiked this for the blow to their credibility. Even the Wall Street Journal might balk at it.

The Post, though? Full steam ahead!

Steve V said...

"Secrecy"? Then why leak it the NEXT DAY? This speaks to who is in "panic" mode, not to mention trying to play catch up.

Jerry Prager said...

Let's just hope then that when the platform is released it will be so obviously a hastily constructed thing that everyone will know that it is and why it came into being.

Jeff said...

Furthermore, the voting has begun! Whatever platform they come up with will not help people who are voting in the advance poll (Oct 3,4 and 6).

North of 49 said...

I think you've pegged it, Steve, though it boggles the mind. Perhaps their ploy (can't call it a strategy) was to release bits and pieces, as they've done with the diesel fuel tax cut and now this apprenticeship thing, to create the illusion that there was a platform into which these planks fit (it'd be crazy for them not to have a platform, wouldn't it, therefore there must be one, ah, somewhere)... while the main focus would be to snipe at and slam every other party's actual platforms, and hope to wiggle through on the negative impression that created.

And now they're caught in the headlights, scrambling to cobble together something, anything, they can wave in the air and call a platform. (I just had a memory flash of Neville Chamberlain brandishing that piece of paper. My unconscious mind has a snarky streak.)

This kind of convulsive catch-up panic fits with other events I've noted through their whole time in office. The best example, I think, was the Accountability Act. It was one of the Five Great Planks in the last election, yet when the bill was sent to the Senate they sent it back because it was so technically flawed it would not have survived a court challenge. Why? Astonishingly, it appears that the bill was crafted in extreme haste after they were elected, and not, as ordinary prudence and forethought would have dictated, been drafted and vetted and ready to hit the ground running well before the voters went to the polls.

I've said it before: These kids just don't do their homework. They skip class all year and then cram for the final, hoping it'll all come right on the day. And they think they can govern? Jayzus!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Don Martin is the biggest shill in Canadian journalism but I can confidently claim he is in the top three.

Jay said...

Where's the wisdom in releasing your platform after people have voted in advance polls?

Dame said...

Didn’t Paul Wells said in the first week of campaign / and after along talk with Mr Harper…” /the plan was there is no plan…” for the Conservatives..?????

I can easily rationalize from Harper’ s point of view… he was anticipating a very hard downturn on the economy and he wanted to Do ANYTHING what fits his main Goals… slash and burn and handle all solely in his hand just like any other dictator would … and No one can say a word.

He has this dream/ nightmare / “useful crisis’ as a tool to do the Ultimate Play.

Except now It Seems the majority is tanked and even to win a Minority he needs To show some “ PLAN “ he is panicking…

marta

Olaf said...

Steve,

I don't know. I mean, your timeline scenario is impressive and all, but leaving chronology aside for a moment, do you really think that Harper wasn't going to release a platform at all if someone didn't bring it up in the debates? "Ok sir, the platform is ready" "Um, you know what, just toss it out. I don't need that kind of headache during a campaign, plus think that anyone will notice". This doesn't make sense to me.

As I said at my place, he's probably just trying to hide it for as long as he can to avoid scrutiny. Also, I agree he's probably adding a few things since the market meltdown, which Dion and Layton also would have done if he didn't release his a few days before it. But I'm quite sure he always had one prepared, but was planning on releasing it late in the campaign so there'd be less time to parse through it.

Also, have you people been reading Don Martin lately? He's hammered Harper and the CPC quite a few times, the latest being on the Ritz affair. Wouldn't exactly call him a shill, at least compared to the Sun chain columnists, or some at the TorStar.

Steve V said...

olaf

We are talking about 12 hours here, doesn't make any sense. You know Harpo, you think he would just let Layton bury him and say nothing if he knew they were going to release a platform the NEXT DAY? I honestly think they probably had discussed a platform, decided against it, just release piecemeal, but reconsidered after two nights of taking it in the gonads ;)

Martin has had his moments, but he lost me when he said Dion didn't do well in the French debate. Bias much? He has to keep his employer happy, never forget that. When push comes to shove I feel a shill in the air.

Olaf said...

Steve,

I think we're remembering the debate differently, perhaps. As I remember it, May shouted out the first "Where is it?" when Harper first mentioned his platform, and he just ignored her and continued to speak. Then, he again said "take a look at our platform and you'll see..." and Layton interjected "What platform..." and Harper again said "Take a look..." and Layton said again "what platform..." and Harper again said "Take a look at our platform and you'll see blah blah blah...". That's how I remember it, anyways.

Frankly, I think the problem was that Harper said "Take a look at our platform...", and wasn't about to say "Yea, oh man I screwed up, you're right, I haven't released it yet, so it's not your fault for not knowing our party's position". Instead, he ignored the comments and just kept talking, indeed, he even repeated the "take a look at our platform" comment, long after May got him, and directly after Layton did. That's not to excuse Harper for not releasing his platform earlier, I've criticised him for that, but I just don't agree with your chronological based conclusions that he never planned to release a full platform to begin with.

As for Martin, you can say that he has to please his employer, but that didn't stop Kinsella for years. Martin has been pretty critical of the Conservatives over the past two years, and in most cases, rightly so. You may just want to chalk this one up to poor judgment - which is to say, judgment different from your own :)

I've always been a bit surprised that whenever a columnist comes to a different conclusion than an observer, the latter almost always claims bias, as opposed to simply poor judgment. I don't think Travers, or Walkom, or Salutin, or whoever, are shills for the Liberals or the NDP, I just think they're dummies. Dummies, in the OED use of the term, meaning "people who disagree with Olaf". :)

Steve V said...

olaf

You're wrong, I looked at the tape before I posted. On both occasions, during the economic portion, he said nothing, despite nobody else interjecting. The last time he had a blank look on his face, then looked to Palkin to bail him out. CTV still has it online, he said ZIP and he wasn't calculating either. It's a post debate concoction.

Steve V said...

Oh, and why would anybody think Travers is a Liberal shill. I CHALLENGE anyone to find a single positive column towards the Liberals in the last year. Or, how about that other big Red Star columinst Chantal Hebert, who's made a living slighting anything Liberal. The difference, a paper like the Star has an editorial slant, the NP has an agenda. People can sluff it off as sour grapes, but there's a difference. How about the CBC? Ohhh, the right wing's nemesis, and yet their centerpiece political roundtable, At Issue has a former Tory pollster, the Dion hater and an admitted conservative, with a flair for playing the contrarian. Yep, pro Lib alright. That's our two "friends", now compare that with the other side.

Ken Chapman said...

I think Harper wanted to claim a majority win that he would be able to deem to be an open-ended mandate with the unfettered power to do whatever he wishes based on his personal whims and cowering trained seal MPs.

He would not have any substantial policy pronouncements in the campaign to lie about like fixed election dates and income trusts.

He would claim personal carte blanche policy discretion with the absolute power inherent in a majority and no platform to perform against and to be accountable for.

Harper is risky in uncertain economic times. Do Nothing Now in the economic crisis means he can do what ever he deems to be in his best interest - if he gets a majority.

Harper needs to be given a dose of humility and a serious loss or reduction in seats and popular vote this election would do the trick.

Can't see him losing with his seat efficiency. But he could be battered and bruised a bit by a pissed off electorate. That would be good for him, democracy and the country.

Harper is not worth the risk.