Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Permanent Campaign & Smear Politics

One of the best blogs on either side of the political spectrum is impolitical and I find I am rarely in disagreement with the writings there. However when it comes to the support of Ignatieff I find myself at odds. To Iggy's credit he is very well spoken and he has proven to be just as greasy a political operator as his opponents. It is also not surprising that he is perceived by the Cons as a legitimate threat. So news that Harper's flying monkeys are set to begin a new cycle of attack ads isn't much of a surprise. It isn't as though the Cons are an especially creative lot.

The Conservatives are scouring hundreds of hours of videotape as they prepare to pummel their key rival Michael Ignatieff with attack ads leading up to the next election.

And what a jolly pastime that must be for the legion of Steve's hairless weasels hunkered down in their basement redoubts. And the saddest thing of all is that these worthless cretins, both Liberal and Conservative are so blinded to the realities of the land they are
supposed to be serving that the most pressing issue to any of the bastards is the next election. And the next election. And the next election. The corrupt idiot Liberals are desperate to return to the power side of the Commons at any cost and the corrupt idiot Conservatives are desperate to lock up that elusive majority that they haven't earned.

So get ready for the next round of attacks courtesy of the puffin mongers.

The Tories already have anti-Ignatieff ads ready to air at a moment's notice, and are also combing through a lifetime's worth of musings from his career as a public intellectual.

Given how very much Ignatieff enjoys the sound of his own voice and his many dubious pronouncements as a private citizen and pompous intellectual at large, the Cons will have lots to work with. Mind you, it will be difficult for the Cons to navigate criticism around Iggy's moronic cheerleading for the Iraq war, which he strongly supported until he didn't. They can't afford to pull the sheets off that one 'cos Steve was cuddled up in that bed too. And they'll also be hard pressed to come up on the rosy side of Iggy's waffling about torture. After all, they themselves condone the continued, illegal incarceration and "enhanced interrogation" of a Canadian child soldier. Not to mention their response to Canada's suspect handling of detainees in Afghanistan.

I do agree with impolitical as regards the skewed priorities of the Cons, given the state of the economy and the legitimate issues facing Canadians who aren't teat suckling pols. But with Iggy stumping it up on behalf of the toxic tar cartel in hopes of making electoral inroads in Alberta, his priorities are every bit as wrong. Neither of our two major political parties are working in the best interests of the nation. A new round of noxious attack ads on the horizon, colour me not surprised.

Where I differ with impolitical is in the result of those sorts of ads, past and present.

You know, it seems like so long ago that the Conservatives had the luxury of indulging in the silly shrugging Dion campaign. It's likely, however, that the same feat of deploying such negativity successfully against Ignatieff will prove much more difficult this time around.

On the one hand I can agree that a new round of smears won't be as effective. Canadians are tired of the puerile nonsense pouring out of Ottawa. Anti-intellectual bigotry won't play as well in much of Canada as anti-Francophone bigotry. We will see how well the cult of the leader has taken root among the Grits. The Liberal response to this round of attacks will be telling as I suspect quite strongly that Michael Ignatieff and his backers were complicit by their silence in the character assassination of Stephane Dion. The Conservative attacks played quite tidily to their ends. I found it remarkable that the Liberal Party had no effective answer to the negative ads by their rivals. Where were the heavy hitting Liberals when their leader was being dragged through the muck? I don't recall much in the way of a response because there wasn't much of a response. Iggy and the factionally strategic Liberals sensed that their leader was vulnerable so they hung the poor bastard out to dry.

Where I really part ways with my esteemed peer is in the details.

To see frivolous personal attacks in the midst of all this, it's hard to believe it will play in the same way. Such attacks bounced off Obama.

Obama was facing an almost comically bad opponent. McCain had very limited support from within the Republican machine and was never fully accepted by their base. McCain and his joke of a running mate ran smears, sure, but they also ran an inept, ham-fisted clusterfuck of a campaign. The innate bigotry of large portions of the populace, the smears and fear of change all combined to see Obama win by a not staggering margin. With Obama's rhetorical skills, youth and decent looks opposing an angry, kook in the wake of a ruinous eight years of Dubya... a rational voting public would have returned a landslide. And still, some of the smears maintain a grip on the public down in crazyville. The muslim name, the birth certificate, all of those stupid smears still have some traction. So while it is true that Iggy is no Dion, he sure isn't an Obama either.

If the Conservatives think they're going to tell Canadians that Ignatieff is not really Canadian, that he's a "fair-weather" Canadian in some kind of patriotic litmus test...can't say the recent precedent looks promising for them.

This isn't the attack of the kerners and their obsession over a birth certificate. Hell,
I think Ignatieff is a fair weather Canadian. I think he returned to the country because he saw an opportunity to burnish his resume, to secure his legacy as a great man. I don't need Stephen Taylor's mouth breathing, team shit-for-brains suggesting it. I don't need to see another round of poorly crafted teevee spots to put the idea over. From where I sit, Iggy is just the calculated sort of selfish goof to inspire that idea to spring to mind unassisted.

Ignatieff is not Dion. As much as I respected and supported Dion, Ignatieff has proven thus far that he's quite able to handle himself in engagement with the Conservatives.

No indeed, Iggy is not Dion. Foolish or not, Dion was a man of principle who went out on a limb with an environmental plan that would be hard to sell. Now Iggy is trying to portray strip mining tar sands as an issue of patriotic pride. He is more capable of answering a smear than Dion but that isn't a sign of greater intellect or nobility, it is a matter of better communication skills in English. Iggy will understand and respond better to the low rent tactics of the Cons because he isn't above those same dirty politics. He'll say what he thinks will get him a vote and he'll do what he thinks will get him a vote. He and Harper deserve each other. The rest of us deserve much better than either of them.


Ti-Guy said...

He and Harper deserve each other. The rest of us deserve much better than either of them.

No, we don't. The more detestable a person is, the more electable he or she is. It shouldn't make sense, but apparently it does.

Dee said...

Ti-Guy you're right but don't you think Obama has brought politicians behaving badly to new level? I don't think Harper's attack ads will work given Obama's popularity in this country. The standards haven risen above tie level.

Brendan Denovan said...

As much as I hate to admit it, Iggy needs to be a back alley mudslinger at present to gain support from those who have abandoned the Libs. We'll see if he can really kick in some teeth soon enough.

All of PSA's observations ring true to me, but if the Cons are to be challenged, first you have to be able to beat them at their own game. The great sea change will never happen, only incremental shifts can get enough voting people on board. On board what you say? No fucking clue, but it won't be the current Canadian neocon clusterfuck.

Frank Frink said...

I always read impolitical with the understanding that she is a Liberal and a supporter of the Liberal Party.

psa said...

dee, i think you over estimate the power of obama being popular. the primary battles with hillary weren't exactly pleasant. and while the american political machines are more subtle, offering more distance for the candidate from the mud slinging, it isn't like he got to where he is without being willing to get mean. standards, hell, these are politicians we're talking about her and the canadian ones have nothing on the slick, expensive p.r. operations run down south.

as for beating the cons at their own game, that's a matter of becoming that which you despise. thing is that iggy's ever flexible platform seems to keep bending away from what would even be an incremental difference with steve's. stand up for the tar sands? no thanks. replacing a vicious shit with a rotten asshole doesn't help. the bottom line is i don't trust either of the leaders or their parties. sadly there's no viable alternatives. the short term political future of canada is screwed.

sooey said...

Sigh. Whatever you do, don't vote NDP.

Ti-Guy said...

I just might if they run another z-list actor in my riding again.

Dee said...

psa, I agree with you but I really do think the average voter is sick of the in your face mud slinging. Wedgies are sudtle and can be done covertly.

After what happened back in December and January I believe Canadians will examine Harper a lot closer than they used. Anything and everything he does has become suspect. I don't think they have the appetite to be made fools of again.