Some gaffes are understandable. I can see how Jack Layton wanted to make homelessness an issue in the campaign. Even though I don't agree with them, I can see how someone might truly believe Reid or Merrifield's views on bilingualism and abortion. And if you look at the initial quotes in both cases, they're not as extreme as everyone is painting them to be. Even Martin pretty much agreed with Merrifeld's opinion that there should be counseling for a woman considering an abortion (though he phrased it better).
But sometimes, you're just left scratching your head. I cannot think of one single benefit speaking out against the Clarity Bill would bring a politician who has zero chance of winning seats in Quebec. And it's beyond me, what Martin hoped to accomplish by sending two cabinet ministers to heckle the leader of the opposition. Wells and Kinsella have already weighed in on this but how ridiculous was it to see the former chief economist of the Royal Bank heckling Stephen Harper? I mean, what possible victory could be gained from this? How could this possibly spin to the Liberals' advantage?
Say what you want about Chretien but the guy had some smart people running his campaigns. Attacking your opponent is smart. Implying Harper wants to turn Canada into the 51st state is smart. But bluntly saying he's "un-Canadian"? Stupid. Openly ambushing him in public with nothing substantial to say? Stupid. There's a difference between Warren Kinsella holding up a Barney doll on Canada AM and making a joke and Warren going on the show and saying "Stockwell Day is a religious nut! PLEASE VOTE FOR ME!!!" Right now, the Martinites are doing the later and they just look desperate. What they really need to do is to be either:
a) (more) subtle in their attacks
b) (more) clever in their attacks
I've put "more" in brackets since I haven't seen any subtlety or cleverness so far in their attacks.
The Martinites are really showing a difficulty winning anything where restricting membership forms isn't an option. It will be interesting to see if Herle survives the campaign or if he'll meet the same fate Bill Lee got in '84. My money is that Martin's seriously warped sense of loyalty (as in, he's loyal to those who are disloyal) will prevail and Herle will keep driving this CSL election freighter straight into an iceberg.