Thursday, September 11, 2008

Am I Missing Something Here?

If I'm listening the pundits, reading the columns and scanning the news coverage, it would appear it's the Liberals campaign that is running into trouble. However, if I actually look at what HAS occured to date, it would seem the Liberals have been gaffe free, Dion feisty and strong, no controversies, the campaign running smoothly. It's like two parallel worlds, that show no relationship to each other.

Looking at the other campaigns, that apparently are running relatively well, the emerging narrative is even more perplexing. Day 1, Harper's war room presser falls flat on it's face, so much so the Conservatives ABANDON the concept. Harper is forced to pull down parts of the Conservative website, because of poor taste, a development that highlights the contradiction between fuzzy Steve and mean-spirited Steve. Yesterday, Harper flip flops on Afghanistan, and bigger still, does a complete 180 on May, isolated and alone, forced to back down. On top of that, a candidate is forced to step down, another candidate calls Harper a egomaniac and a control freak, while the husband of a third thinks Harper is a dictator. Yes, clearly the Conservative campaign has been gaffe free, running at optimum precision. Listening to the media, it's as though they've been seduced by the SWEATER and the fireside chats, because if you laid out what has transpired so far hardly a rousing start. People consider the above campaign is running according to plan? I bet if you presented this week as a theoretical, prior to the writ drop, Conservative strategists would have cringed.

The NDP has faced a firestorm of controversy, with protests to boot, striking at the heart of their entire message. And yet, they're on the march apparently, everything just peachy keen in NDP land. I guess flip flops are a positive now, who knew?

As far as I'm concerned, the Liberals have ran the best campaign to date, completely on message, no real hiccups, apart from the pre-writ plane fiasco (oh, and why isn't Harper using carbon offsets again?). Dion has looked good, the crowds have been encouraging, the campaign reactive and disciplined. Clearly, if you put the three campaigns side by side, it's the Liberals with the least amount of surprises, and yet, according to the media presentation, you would think it's the Liberals stumbling out of the gate. Frankly, I find it all AMAZING, because based on simple facts and developments, I've actually liked what I've seen, that is until I listen to a talking head or an all knowing columnist, with an agenda.

Maybe, it's just me.


Jeff said...

the media bias is striking. however,in my riding, peggy nash has been omnipresent and i'm still waiting to hear a peep from gerard kennedy.

this riding is far from a cake walk for kennedy. he'd better get moving.

it may be an one off but kennedy's absence is certainly noticeable around here.

on the whole though, i agree with your analysis. it seems that the media decided before the election was even called that the liberal campaign would be a disaster.

i'm not sure how they can reverse the narrative.

a few more national TV ads might help since they're getting no help from the likes of duffy and newman.

mansbridge seems borderline hostile at times to the liberal campaign.

funny how the claims of liberal media bias have vanished from the pages of conservative bloggers of late.

Steve V said...

Better get moving indeed, that's a tough fight.

Jeff, that's what I think, the narrative was set pre-writ, those pre-election polls allowed everyone to run. Hey, why bother having a campaign...

RuralSandi said...

Apparently, Nanos has a poll coming out today.

He's good and accurate, but why does he obsess with who's the best leader stuff.

Kady O'Mally said in a response on one of her blogs that Nanos is actually conservative.

Anonymous said...

it is continual putdown for Mr.Dion...and I think he is doing a good job. I too will wait for the nanos poll which will be featured on cpac tonite....If it is bad...we have had it....On September 24th Mercury goes retrograde in the sign of Libra(Mr.Dion) until October 15 and that is all he needs...good Luck Stephane...I dont think Mr.Kennedy has a chance against Peggy....gramps

900ft Jesus said...

that contradiction of facts and opinion statements by media has been puzzling me as well. They report the events you mention, Steve, but persist is saying it's obviously going to be a win for Harper. Makes no sense, so may others here are right that the press already made their minds up. Lazy-ass reporting, if that's the case, or it's just to much fun and sells more papers to keep up the Dion bashing theme.

I still think it can go either way, and the Libs definitely have a chance. Dion is running a good campaign - human, funny, intelligent, capable of spontaneity.

While I believe we should have defended May's right to debate, I really wish the damn MP hadn't crossed, because there's more division, possibly.

But I'm really hoping that May will pull a Danny Williams near the end and preach anything but CON. Her verbal support of Dion is good, and maybe she cares more about the country than seats for her party at this time.

Steve, thanks for the poll updates. Always part of my day, checking your site for the latest.

Geekwad said...

I don't have TV, I don't listen to the radio, and I read a newspaper (GAM) about once a month. I watch CPAC on the Internet and read things like Kady and Aaron's on-the-spot impressions. My editorials come straight from the keyboard of Geist, Garry Wise, Mathew Ingram, and others. I have always found that what I hear from people who watch TV news and what I believe to be actually happening from my own sources is quite different.

Mainstream media bears as much resemblance to news as baloney does to a pig.

Anonymous said...

Steve, why do you always try to wedge reality into a good media narrative?

I don't want to do with my work breaks now - I can't watch US news or Canadian news. I figure if I'm going to watch a good fiction, I can just watch another episode of MadMen off the season 1 DVD I just got (excellent btw, highly recommend ; ).

But I'll be all caught up in another week or so, at least by the debates. Hopefully by then there will be a restoration of relative sanity.

I am used to ignoring media talking heads, but what bugs me is the proliferation of meaningless poll data. Angus Reid seems all tingly in trying to focus every angle they can on the "NDP rivaling the liberals" shot whereas Donolo of "Strategic Counsel" is cranking out meaningless and nebulous data on "the top ridings" in 3 provinces and trying desperately to make the tracking data relevant. If there can be polling malpractice, he'd be sued by now. But that doesn't stop the sweeping "analysis" he offers with each report, which the G&M gobbles up like its the one true measure of what is "really going on out there."

It's really bizarre.

I am beginning to think that although the focus of the media is on the top, there is a real opportunity for the individual candidates to really show their stuff in each riding. I think that bodes well for the Liberals as it appears they have a really excellent line-up of candidates from what I'm seeing.

Anonymous said...

CanWest's bias against the Liberal party is absolutely disgusting. I am increasingly sickened by what I am reading. Recently I have stopped visiting their websites because you know what they are going to say before you even read an article. Doesn't matter what it is ....Liberals are bad and Cons are good. The National Post is by far the worst and they no longer pretend in any way that they are a balanced paper. The subtlety is gone and they are absolutely determined to deliver Harper his majority.

Anonymous said...

Geekwad, I can't believe you took this opportunity to cast aspersions at the Governor of Alaska.

I demand an apology.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile in the real world, the polls have so far been unanimous since the start of the campaign - Liberals down, down, down and NDP and Tories up, up, up.

I think that some of those summer polls looked OK for the Liberals because they have a lot of passive brand identification. Once the campaign starts and people start actually seeing Dion on TV - they get reminded of why they don't want to vote Liberal.

Anonymous said...

I saw this coming several years ago while blogging primarily in the US political blogoshpere. It has definitely crept across the border. I stopped watching TV completely a year and a half ago. Newspapers - only letters to the editor online for quite awhile and the odd well-written, fact-based article linked to by blog. This is all I can tolerate. Unfortunately, the majority of people are watching and reading MSM. The Conservatives are well aware of this and they are using it to their full advantage and why wouldn't they?

Can we stop crying over the spilt milk and use our minds to overcome this challenge? That is the question facing Liberals? How to counteract this. I think perhaps the only way is to develop an email forwarding thing. If Liberals were sending friends and family short, informative, fact-based emails, this might be the only way to fight back and level the playing field somewhat. The problem is who co-ordinates this? Typical reading on any given day on Liblogs, for example, can produce a variety of opinions. To my ears, this may resonate with common themes, in spite of the appearance of disagreement. To the average person, not watching closely, it will sound confused and disarrayed. My question is what do I choose to copy / paste and email to my contacts? There needs to be a coherent and very, very consistent message system developed and fast. JMHO.


ottlib said...


I would point you to the blog I posted at my place on September 4 for an explanation of this situation.

The media reaction is pretty much unfolding how I stated in that post.

And oh look, anonymous has come by to drop some Puffin turd on us. How nice.

Steve V said...


But are they seeing Dion on TV? Seems to me, it's like trying to get your message out, through a dense fog of preconception. As for the polls, this is soft support, so anyone reaching conclusions at this point is jumping ahead.


I agree, and I've directed the same sort of questions you've asked.

Steve V said...


Oh, lots are dropping by, this is the only one I'm leaving on, because it's makes a point, not valid, but... As for the rest, I think 6 or 7 now, DON'T BOTHER, or bet yet DO BOTHER, I like watching people waste their time, particularly when it takes a nanosecond to hit delete.

It's a free country, and I choose to exercise my right to tune out NONSENSE.

Geekwad said...

"Can we stop crying over the spilt milk and use our minds to overcome this challenge?"

Noble but doomed. Anyone who gives a damn does not trust their TV and knows where to find useful news. That makes, optimistically, what, 5% of the population?

It's not like this is new. The strongest forces within any democracy of more than a dozen people are always apathy and deceit. At least we are not voting for whichever man can hold his drink through the debate better (or can cover for it best).

Anonymous said...

It's not just you. I too have been completely confounded by the media's reluctance to be at all critical. I have come to the conclusion that a lot of journalists really aren't that smart and are more concerned with hitting their deadlines than they are with giving facts (and don't even get me started on the opinionists).

It really is sad. At this point I feel like I can only put my my faith in Mr. Dion to somehow get his message to Canadians who will in turn buy it. At least he is smart and has been in tough fights before.

Gayle said...

I will not repeat what I said in the previous post, though I think it applies here too.

What I would like to know is when will anyone ask Harper about HIS GHG reduction plan, and the cost to Canadians? They are all lapping up the GS criticisms, but no one is talking about the CPC plan.

Everyone was compaining that the LPC would not release policy before the election, and now that they have done so they criticize them for being stupid enough to release policy before the election so they are on the defensive.


Gayle said...

And then you have this...

Gayle said...

Ugh - it was the story about how Ryan Sparrow was suspended

Steve V said...


And, therein lies the most CONFOUNDING thing of all. First, nobody supports the Con plan, NOBODY, and yet we hear nothing of that. Second, if you want to buy the Con propaganda and accept the plan as real, then you have to deal with their own prognostications, a .4-10% GDP hit, a cost that is not "trivial". How is it then, that Harper gets to trash Dion, but nobody asks what his plan will do to the economy? You never hear it, not a hint of real journalism, it's just bashing without the FACT CHECK.

The saddest part, it will be these same "journalists" complaining in a few months about the lack of substance in Canadian politics, decrying the party spin meisters as dumbing down the process, cynically manipulating the message. Who is there to tell them, you're part of the problem, you perpetuate, you are the one's who can't deal with anything beyond a soundbite. Blows my mind.

Harper shuns these people for two years, then he decides to play nice guy and it's a new day all of sudden. Playing you putz's like a fiddle, and you think your so clever.

Gayle said...

Martin Goldfarb has an interesting column in today's Globe.

Steve - I noticed the Globe went after Harper's attack on the GS today. Apparently Harper was using an old study, and refused to factor in the tax cuts because he claims the LPC will never implement them.

Aside from Duffy, and a few of Janke's partisans, I have not heard anyone actually argue the tax cuts will not be implemented.

The GS plan says the revenue neutrality will be law. Contrast that with the diesel fuel reduction, which will happen at some point in the next four years, economy permitting.

Steve V said...


And guess how CTV is reporting Sparrow being suspended- it really shows how the Conservatives are so much better at reacting than they were in previous elections, a testament to their well oiled machine. Gaffes are good, thank-you Bob Fife and thanks for swallowing hard.


Anonymous said...

Steve - so what do we do? Do we all email the liberal campaign asking for tools to do something effective or do we all just discuss this endlessly for the next five weeks?

Geekwad - "Noble but doomed". How long did it to take you to start crying over spilt milk? Typing those three words cost you about thirty seconds, maybe more. We don't have time for this aymore. Cynicism has to stop. We must get Dion elected. What if all Allied forces on D-day said to each other, why bother? Or worse, disagreed on where to land and went to their own beaches to storm ashore? If progressive voters in my circle of friends and family are at best, uncertain of Dion, and at worst, already have bought into the negative messaging deployed agaisnt him by the Conservatives, then Liberals everywhere, campaign officials, card-carrying and small-l liberals must wake up and realize this situation needs reversing and it needs that now, not tomorrow. Strategy and tactics. That is what needs discussing, but more importantly, it needs to be agreed on and deployed.

Most TV ads are about thirty seconds. That is how much time you have to get your message to undecided voters. Probably less. In advertising, as a former business person, we were told we had three seconds to get the customer a message. That is why all ads are short. They also come with hooks. Some sharp for catching and keeping and some with barbs removed for catch and release, to spread ideas. We need all hooks sharp, barbed and baited. All.

Most people have been trained to respond to this timeframe due to the TV, radio and newspaper advertising techniques employed for at least fifty some years.


Steve V said...


Already on the first one, but I'm not sure it can change quickly.

Geekwad said...

Anon, what you suggest is the solution is what I suggest is the problem. If my choices are to bamboozle people who can't be interested to find out anything for themselves, and to wash my hands of it all and instead spend my efforts on making myself independent of the asylum I happen to find myself living in, I'll pick the latter.

Yes, I am cynical, but I don't see that you are any less in arguing for the three second pitch.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree. If you look at the facts it looks like the Tories have had a daily blunder with the NDP joining in on May blunder. Again today suspending Sparrow. So far on the surface it appears Dion has the most disciplined campaign. I'm media just believes what they want to believe and write what they want to write. It's sad.

Steve V said...


Dion's campaign has easily been the most displined, the supposed key (or at least that's what they said about Harper last time).

Anonymous said...

Steve - glad to hear you are on it. Your blog is good and I enjoy your take on things. I must go to work. I tried to comment at Scott Tribe's since he has posted a similar topic today and I tried to link to this post of yours but was marked as spam and deleted. So alas, I tried to contribute to the discussion today. Hope it helps.

Geekwad - "Yes, I am cynical, but I don't see that you are any less in arguing for the three second pitch."

I have worked very hard to be a realist and to face the facts, whatever they may be, especially if I don't like them. After that, it is possible to be idealistic and to act. I think you are the same and would be more so if you set aside your cynicism.


Geekwad said...

Does it not feel to you that you are advocating a kind of mind control? Advertising of the sort you are describing isn't about content or argument, it's about manipulating quirks of our brains and psychologies to override our reason. Your description of what we have to do seems to confirm you see it the same way. To me that is an "end justifies means" view, which is a compromise I'm not (yet?) willing to make.

Of course I agree very much that we have to talk to the people who are important to us about the things that are important to us.

Jerry Prager said...

It's all going to be over soon, and around the same time the Right starts collapsing in America it will start collapsing here, only we get to vote first, they will follow suit. The green tide is rising and with it new democracy, new media, new hope. The fun is just beginning.

Frankly Canadian said...

I hope your right Jerry!