Framing The Debate
Today, Harper has again gained control of the media cycle by going on the attack. Now...I'll admit I don't really understand how per sey Harper plans to cut wait times without injecting any money into health care or by dramatically changing the system. I'm hoping it doesn't involved faith healing because that would really hurt him in Ontario.
But, really, what's Martin going to say? "Stephen Harper is making vague promises about health care!" Honestly, I really, really, really hope Paul says something like that, because that will be so easy to make fun of. In fact, I might even pre-write the post, just so I beat Paul Wells to the punch at posting the old PMPM quotes about fixing health care for a generation and all that.
Instead of letting himself get demonized on health care, Harper is following Layton's lead in assuming that the best defense is a good offense. By attacking Martin on health care, it makes it a lot harder for Martin to go after Harper. I've always thought the opposition parties making health care an issue was risky since the Liberals are seen as the best to handle health care but, like SSM, this was always going to become an issue - at least now Harper has laid his cards on the table.
And that's really the best play for Harper. By getting all his policy out there early, he'll end the talk of a "hidden agenda". What could also be extremely problematic for the Liberals is if they don't have any policy to announce. Let's face it, a lot of Liberal policy got buried in the Roman orgy of spending and if there's nothing left to lure voters to the Liberal fold, Martin could be in deep trouble.