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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

6/15/2004

Debates

Being sans television I went back to the thirties and listend to the last half on radio. Two yowling small children did not help but my quick impression was that Harper did fine but not brilliantly, Jack Layton was better than I expected and showed a good deal of poise, Martin sounded as though he felt he had a couple of themes to hit and just wailed on them and Duceppe did a masterful job of keeping Martin's feet to the Adscam fire.

What struck me was that Martin is desperate to turn this into a clash of visions but suffers from the problem that he really has no vision other than the status quo but better. Sadly, Harper seemed unwilling to really hit Martin on the issues. It was like listening to a guy wrapped in cotton wool.

It sounded to me as if Harper is running for a minority. And that, I'm afraid, is a mistake. If you are the challenger you have to swing for the fences not hit endless singles.

Update: Paul Wells is less kind....
And all they did was shout one another down, ask questions they knew could not be answered, declare their opponents unable to answer their bogus questions after the barest of pauses, and otherwise engage in a way that would have shamed the parents of any four-year-old.

Who taught Paul Martin to put his hand in another man's face to shut him up?
inkless wells


Update II: Andrew Coyne is a bit surprised at the positive reaction Harper got:
From comments on phone-in shows etc, it seems to be Harper's restraint -- or passivity, if you prefer -- that played well. People were really put off by all the shouting over one another. Indeed, if there's one big loser from the debate, it's probably Anna Maria Tremonti.

It doesn't matter who "won" the debate in a competitive sense: we're not picking a debating champ. It does matter if the general impression left influences voters one way or another. If Harper's performance assuages voter fears that he's too extreme -- extreme in temperament, more than in ideology -- he could get a lift out of this. As a bonus, it would make hash of my thesis in tomorrow's column.
andrew coyne
Part of what powers the media, even us bloggers, is we read the media. Out in the real world it is the impression a leader makes as much as the minute by minute gaffe count and scary meter.

[cross posted to Shotgun and BlogsCanada Election E-group.]