Saturday, February 10, 2007

Dion Honeymoon Over

I've noticed a subtle shift in the media attitude towards Dion this past week. The "free ride" that Conservatives have complained about would appear to be over. I never viewed Dion's positive press as unique, every new leader or government is afforded a honeymoon (try to find a negative Harper piece last March). You need time and evidence before you start to frame a new leader.

I watched a political roundtable of reporters, on the CBC, that was quite critical of Dion. One line of attack, Dion has given Ignatieff too high a profile, the side by side, weakens Dion's presence. Keep in mind, these are the same people who applauded Dion for uniting the "fractured" Liberal Party only a few weeks ago. Harper likes to stand alone, and you could argue this solidifies the image of strong leader. Dion chooses a more collective approach, but I suppose there is a danger in being outshined by others, which diminishes Dion's stature.

The above criticism, ties into another one mentioned, and I believe this one has merit. Reading from a text, in a mostly stilted manner, hasn't benefited Dion in question period. Now, you can debate the importance of the exercise, but the fact of the matter, the media pays attention and forms alot of opinions, based on how you perform in the "arena". Objectively, the Conservatives have largely pounded Dion's questioning. The questions are posed in such a way that they provide EASY rebuttal. Dion hasn't looked comfortable and Harper has clearly gotten the better of him to date. This reality may explain the "outshined" argument, because it is important for the leader of the opposition to lead the charge- so far, others have clearly been more effective.

The linked piece, and the roundtable, both mention some nervousness in Liberal circles over Dion's leadership. This view is probably overstated, but it detracts from the view that the party is united. The criticism also validates the Conservative attacks that Dion isn't leadership material. It will be up to Dion to show a forcefulness that silences this line of criticism.

Some people dismiss polls as useful, we waste far too much energy dissecting every result. This might be true in one sense, but the reality is the media takes many of its cues from polling. I see a direct co-relation, and the polls were used as backdrop, for the changing tone towards Dion. Do we hear these criticisms if the Liberals enjoy a 5 point lead? I doubt it very much, the relatively "weak" polling allows the media to attack Dion with validated cover. Polls shape the debate, whether we agree or not.

The honeymoon is officially over, now it is up to Dion to provide forceful rebuttal, before any gel starts to set.


S.K. said...

Dion has given ignatieff too high a profile. That is absolutely without a doubt true and it will undermine us if he doesn't let the igster know they have to supporrt him and not ignatieff. it sends conflicting ideas about policy platform and leadership and is dangersous to us in an election. it was a mistake.

Anonymous said...

Now look what you started. Shoshanna's been validated!
I'd say that the media has followed its pendulum act, from harpor's sudden change to 'Capt Greenpeace' to answering the economic bell, rung by big industry who pulls the strings of Leonard, Rogers et al. Certainly Dion's plan and focus on the environment is worthy of questioning, but Harpor continually is given an easier ride -- take his 'so-called accountability' effort, with all the hypocritical acts that followed. Despite that, they continue to let give him great leadership headlines, stories and photos.
Ignatieff has nothing to do with it, altho i certainly would like to see Dion alongside Dryden more often. And I think we both agree that Dion needs to turn a headlight towards the economy and Harpor's mishandling of it, from wild spending/wild cuts to damaging Canada's reputation in Asia and Europe.

Dr. Tux said...

We have to remember that Dion's vision is built on the three pillar approach, it isn't just the environment. The media constantly overemphasizes the environmental aspect, we need to correct this and bring it back to the three pillar approach. Which is the right vision for Canada.