Monday, April 27, 2009

The Optics Of "Nothing"

Much debate about what exactly this Liberal convention is all about, or more correctly, what it's not about. I would submit that a lack of drama is exactly what this party needs at the moment, especially when compared to what the alternative might have been. The result predictable, the mood largely known, the themes entirely ordinary, but apart from giving the media juicy distractions, there isn't much downside to "nothing".

To be fair, there are important policy matters that will play out, but most of this convention lacks that "sexy" quality that people crave. Division is noteworthy, tribes of Liberals needing to "heal" and unite, that's what they all wanted. Instead we come to Vancouver with nary a dissenting voice, for the first time I can remember, the word "camp" not even entertained. Extraordinary circumstance gave way to the coronation, but given the possible alternative scenarios, it's pretty easy to see how advantageous it is to now not to have critical time wasted bringing people together in the convention aftermath. The Liberals are already there, have been for some time, in fact the sense of "unity" is almost unprecedented in my memory. If one of the main themes, although pedestrian, is a party focused on the big prize, I'll take that over rancor and lingering questions.

Another dull theme that will prevalent, that of a a party on the rebound, in terms of organization and fundraising. One of the chief positives thus far during the Ignatieff "interim" reign, is the vigorous focus on getting our act together, and we're starting to see evidence of the payoff. Contrast that messaging with the spectacle of a broke party, candidates mired in debt, leaving Vancouver at ground zero or worse, and this alternative looks entirely positive. Part of the optimism that will be on display is a manifestation of progress on the "nuts and bolts" front. The storyline of a reinvigorated party, retooling for the next election, is much better than the media examination of the huge problems behind the face presentation.

Part of the media lament is nothing more than a testament to the lack of negative bylines. A story needs spice, sizzle, and if there is any opportunity to undercut the supposed "spin", it is seized upon, that's what gets the media engaged. As far as I'm concerned, the yawner quality really denotes a nothing to see here presentation, and for the Liberals that's the preferred scenario. Think about it for a second, no more tantalizing leaks, no more stories about disarray, now no sense of "knives", no hint of downward trends. In fact, everywhere you look, there is a fair argument for optimism, and that reality isn't newsworthy, much more entertaining when we see discord and the resquisite suspense, which really translates to dicey propositions and unknowns.

I don't think this convention is about "nothing", but for the media, it probably is and if that's the case, I say mission accomplished. It is all very predictable, so one has to wonder, apart from intense focus, how it hurts the Liberals to emerge with the theme of a united party, enthusiastic about it's new leader, optimistic about it's ability to compete, armed with a tangible confidence that the Conservatives days are numbered. The Liberals have had enough drama over the years, a sense of stability and focus, common purpose, ain't nothing by my definition. Bored media tend to look elsewhere, never forget it.

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