Friday, August 18, 2006

Kennedy's Weakspot

Yesterday, I wrote a somewhat critical take on Kennedy and his failure to deliver comprehensive policy positions. A comment raised this valid point:

I think you should look at how much policy other campaigns have produced, before citing a lack of policy from Kennedy. They are all about the same (or even less than Kennedy

It might be unfair to expect more from Kennedy at this stage, but I think he is in a unique position within the “top-tier” candidates. There is the blank slate aspect to Kennedy that is attractive, but it also demands that he distinguish himself more than the others. The criticism of “too inexperienced” has to be met with detail, to show that you can play with the big boys. Particularly on foreign policy and federalism, it is imperative that Kennedy articulate his vision, beyond the easy platitudes. Kennedy needs to deliver a series of meaty policy speeches, to demonstrate his prowess and deflect any detractors who wonder if he is up for the job.

Kennedy doesn’t enjoy the benefit of a long paper trail like Ignatieff, which effectively balances the “newcomer” tag. Rae has a long resume of distinguished work, while Dion is well known on the international stage. These candidates can afford to offer less for now, because their track record is established. Kennedy doesn’t enjoy this “status”, so to be taken seriously he really needs to flood us with policy, and inventive stuff at that.

Kennedy has something to prove, that is the perception that is quickly gelling. The early hype around Kennedy set the bar high and the media seems to want confirmation that he is the real deal (see Chantal Hebert for example), or he risks falling behind. While Kennedy has an impressive provincial record, this doesn’t hold much weight on the federal scene.

The key for the Kennedy campaign now is recognizing their weak points and addressing them forcefully. It’s time for boring policy to take precedence over shaking hands, the conditions demand it. Anyways, that’s my friendly advice.


CQ said...

_I agree.

Unknown said...

Kennedy is out of his element on the national scene. He's simply not ready to play with the big dogs. Rae and Dion ready to be leader right now and the edge goes to Rae. Ignatieff definately has the brains and ideas -- whether we agree with them or not is a different story -- to be leader. Those three can debate circles aroudn Kennedy.

Anonymous said...

One can make the argument that Kennedy's provincial portfolio makes him more "experienced" than an academic who's an absolute novice to governing and administration. And if provincial service is to be dismissed in the federal arena, certainly that would take another "big boy" in Rae down quite a few dress sizes.

Depending on your perspective, Ignatieff's paper trail can be viewed more as a liability than benefit as shown by the numerous occasions that it needed defending and clarifying.

But I agree, Kennedy needs to get into specifics on the larger issues.

UWHabs said...

He does need to get into specifics, but he has done that. He's got a few policies up on his website, and a few weeks back he got a couple news clips/comments about the middle east (and also about Harper's fundraising tactics).

He's certainly not put out an overwhelming number of policy clips, and I would like him to put more out, but I don't think he's behind anyone else in terms of policies and vision.

Steve V said...

I thought the two policy planks Kennedy came out with were quite good- the problem is nothing in two months.