That said, I found something QUITE telling tonight and the change in tactic, the talking point, comes straight from Conservative head office. Yesterday, Tim Powers was quite happy to go ON and ON about the personal attacks directed at Ignatieff, that was the message. Today, and this is not by accident, when Powers was confronted with the ever emerging media theme of mean spirited personal attacks, Powers pivoted and tried to reframe the ad campaign as a discussion on policy:
"There's three or four of them, two or three deal with the economy. What the Conservative Party is trying to say, is to tease out of Michael Ignatieff where does he stand on the economy. He's been a public intellectual for 40 years, good for him, nobody has a problem with that. But, in those 40 years he's rarely written about the economy. There are important issues, people need to decipher."
Technically, there is mention of the economy in a couple of the ads, but even here, always within the larger theme of "just visiting". The personal attack is THE message, whether it be the sole focus or in other ads that give a sprinkle of policy. When the ads were released, there is no question what the Conservatives were pushing, the website says it all, as does the choice of which ads to highlight. Interesting, that today's talking point tries to ignore the previous thrust and instead spin the ads as a legitimate debate on serious policy matters.
Putting aside the need to fight back, the Liberal retorts, I think it's becoming clear that these ads aren't finding legitimacy with the all important media. The columns haven't been particularly receptive, if you had to generalize, almost a childish characterization that questions the source as much as the target. The media are simply not running with this theme of Ignatieff the "visitor", any talk of legitimate question is buried within the gutter questions. It's for this reason- because I don't take Powers pivot as coincidence- that the Conservatives are sensing some blowback, or maybe more rightly, less than glowing reviews, that they're already changing the frame of these ads.
I'm not discounting potential effectiveness, we all know the "attack ads work" reasonings, which are being rehashed now. What I'm sensing though, and I've scanned everything I can possible get my eyes on, THIS time the Conservatives don't have a media partner to support their message. That reality will be a factor in the final analysis, and the fact Conservatives are already adjusting their talking points, supports the perceived importance.