Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Negative Charge

A lot of people are up in arms over the new Tory attack ad. I really don't see why this should be such a big deal - negative ads are a part of campaigning. When you're fighting someone else for a job, it only seems to fair to talk about both your strengths and their weaknesses. Attack ads work - if they didn't, people wouldn't use them. And since they work, political parties would be foolish not to use them.

The Liberals know this as well as anyone, as seen during the last election with one of the most vicious attack ads ever aired on Canadian TV. In addition to going after Harper hard and shooting guns at viewers, it was far more misleading than anything the Tories have come out with so far this election.

And, for anyone needing a reminder, Stephen Taylor has posted a spoof of the ad on his site.

That said, it's a little odd to accuse your opponents of going negative because they have nothing else to offer...and then go negative yourself.

UPDATE: I guess one of the benefits of having such low production value is that you can churn out dozens of ads. Mike Duffy has just shown yet another Tory ad (not up on their website) with a picture of Paul and the words "you paid for it" being stamped down after listing various scandals.


  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger The Hack, at 8:43 PM  

  • Po-TAY-to, po-TAA-to

    You say "odd", I saw "shrewd". ;-)

    By Blogger The Hack, at 8:44 PM  

  • "That said, it's a little odd to accuse your opponents of going negative because they have nothing else to offer...and then go negative yourself."
    That's why I'm up in arms. I could care less that the Cons released an attack ad.

    By Blogger Dan McKenzie, at 8:50 PM  

  • Dan, you're just pissed because the Cons are acting like liberals in the ad-o-sphere! and it will get them elected! HA!

    "up in arms" sucks to be bitch slapped, heh?

    I suppose you are "entitled" to your opinion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:25 PM  

  • Far more misleading than the CPC?

    Given that the ads are pretty much reciting the public record (newspaper headlines, findings of a judge), care to tell us what could possibly be misleading about the CPC ads?

    By Anonymous Chester, at 9:28 PM  

  • I wouldn't say "up in arms" at negative ads per se, more just galled by their hypocrisy.

    By Blogger Red Tory, at 10:08 PM  

  • "That said, it's a little odd to accuse your opponents of going negative because they have nothing else to offer...and then go negative yourself."

    Bingo. That is what I see as the problem with this approach. The CPC went out of its way to denounce Liberal use of such ads with this ad. By doing so they were also making the case that attack ads are not something one would use unless one has no better message. So having the Liberals staying out of the attack/negative ads so far and then having the CPC starting the year launching more negative/attack ads (that original ad was also an attack/negative ad against the Liberals, a fact some people seem to have overlooked) makes them look a bit hypocritical.

    Worse from a strategy POV they may have negated any benefit that first ad would have gotten them when the Liberals went negative themselves. By doing this they have given the Liberals the argument that they must respond in self defence or otherwise they would not have done so, and while yes I know that would have been really unlikely, I like most of us online pay attention to politics in sufficient detail/interest to recognize this. It also opens the possibility that the apparent hypocrisy of the first attack ad from the CPC attacking Liberal's planning to use attack ads against them only to go negative themselves first will cause people to wonder what else the CPC is saying that is hypocritical in reality. Given the credibility issues for hidden agenda Harper and the CPC still have to deal with, this seems to have been a less than smart move from what I see.

    They should have waited for the Liberals to go negative first and then gone to town on them saying "see, we told you so" and in the process immunized themselves from the angry label they have been wearing throughout 2005. This way they may well have undercut themselves, although it will only really blow back at the CPC if the Liberals are smart enough to make this use of it. Time will tell, but it wasn't good strategy I think.

    By Blogger Scotian, at 10:14 PM  

  • I have a question to all of you talking about the "going negative".

    Since when did going negative become synonymous with an "attack" ad?

    As Bart rightly points out, you have to point out your opponents weaknesses, as well as your strengths.

    Despite what Prof. Whats-is-name may say, this negative ad, is not an attack in the same vein as the Libs used last time regarding guns, abortion etc. on the CPC wherein the subject was conjecture rather than using items that were used in public discourse (ie. "I am entitled to my entitlements")


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:34 PM  

  • I think the Cons messed up with these ads, they went negative too soon.

    Unless something unforseen happens I suspect the conservatives have just peeked.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:53 PM  

  • Bart,

    If you want to see an "attack" ad your readers should go over to Stephen Taylors blog and see a remix of the 2004 ad.

    Same pictures, different script. Now that would be what I consder an attack ad, not this panty waist stuff of this week.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:15 PM  

  • Anyone who things the go neg ad was predicting that the liberals would go negative needs to give their head a shake. It was commenting on the liberal message from day 1 on. My opponent has no business to run etc. (check the date on that globe headline).

    I thought the general idea was for ads to carry the hardnosed stuff and for leaders to take the high ground.

    And yet there is Martin all negative again today. Meanwhile Liberals wonder why Conservative ads make pointed remarks about the Liberal record.

    Go figure.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:17 PM  

  • We Canadians, we are so proud of ourselves. We are above negativity. Even if its true negativity. We don't soil ourselves with such things. Negative ads may work on those barbarians to the South, but on us pure, noble Canadians?

    All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

    It starts with having the fortitude to recognize something is evil.

    Perhaps Canadians have lost their spine, their integrity. Perhaps we're now just a collective mush, happy to live off the government teet.

    I don't think we are, but I guess we'll find out on the 23rd.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:21 PM  

  • The reason why the Conservatives are going negative now is that many voters have forgotten why there is an election going on right now. As they wake up hungover to the new reality that is called 2006, they need a little kick in the head to recall the LPC fuck ups of (literally) yesteryear.

    If the CPC when positive immediately, the election would start drifting away from them. They need to frame their own agenda in the wake of reminding voters only now paying attention that the other side's (more attractive) agenda is tainted with corruption.

    While us political geeks have been glued to the whole 55 day campaign, many others are only listening to a 21 day campaign.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:58 PM  

  • I have to agree with Anon. 9:58. We who blog are too hung up on the minutae of this 56-day campaign.

    Joe and Jane Averagevoter aren't going to ascribe too much weight to the batting order, they're just going to check the score. It's early January, 2006 and Joe and Jane have just been reminded that we're in an election. This guy Steve Harper says that PM and co. need to be defeated and here's why. OK, what's PM got to say for his own self. Oh, that guy Harper's said some outrageous thing about our home and native land.

    Now, Joe and Jane Averagevoter are going to watch the debates and decide for themselves based on what's important to them, if they're considering voting at all.

    But, for all you minutae-of-politics-is-crack addicts, this negative/attack/whatever ad will work because of ITscam. It's topical and it reminds the voters of past Liberal indiscretions. ITscam gave the Tories a free pass to attack first and they jumped all over it.

    By Blogger FRANCISM, at 3:48 AM  

  • This really sums up everything I'm feeling about all the whining about the supposed "going neg" in this campaign: Boo Hoo. Cry me a river.

    I'm in total agreement with Kinsella, who doesn't find that these ads are negative. As I've said before, if showing the public record is a negative ad, you guys must really hate watching the average news broadcast.

    By Blogger RGM, at 8:38 AM  

  • "I guess one of the benefits of having such low production value is that you can churn out dozens of ads."

    I would point out that these ads can be made within the conservative budget...something the liberals would not understand considering they're 30 million in debt.

    By Blogger Lanny, at 12:23 PM  

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    By Blogger fish, at 5:09 AM  

  • I'm in complete contract with Kinsella, who doesn't find that these ads are adverse. As I've said before, if displaying the criminal record is a bad ad, you people must really dislike viewing the common information transmitted.

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