Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wild West Shoot-Out


I'll be live blogging the Alberta debate tonight as it unfolds. Until then, we've got a real battle of the Reids forming, with Ipsos showing Ed sailing easy and Angus showing Ed in a ton of trouble. Either way, all eyes will be on the debate tonight - if the Alberta Liberals have any chance, tonight is when Taft will have to make his move.

Oh, and I've got 17 minutes in the "how long does it take Ed Stelmach to bring up Trudeau or the NEP" pool.

6:32 pm: Bill Mason takes a page from the Jack Layton playbook! "elect more NDP MPs...errr...MLAs"

6:33pm: Ed Stelmach opening: "plan...we have a clear plan... a very good plan...plan plan plan"

6:39 pm: Apparently there will be absolutely no moderation this debate...

6:41 pm: What the hell? Commercials? Are they serious?

6:36 pm: I'm watching the debate with James Bowie here and his first question of the evening about Paul Hinman - "is English not his first language?"

6:53 pm: Stelmach points out that he's built a "neo-navel" unit. For belly button piercings?

7:01 pm: Paul Hinman - "we are not getting any action". Well, no.

7:04 pm: Kevin sounds good, pulling from his "next Alberta" speech.

7:05 pm: Stelmach calls his royalty position "a decisive decision".

7:08 pm: Ha ha! Who had 38 minutes in the pool? Stelmach brings up Jean Chretien and Ottawa stealing Alberta's wealth.

7:16 pm: Ed gets asked where his figure of 300,000 lost jobs comes from...and...we're on to talking points...I'll give Ed credit - he's not showing any emotion or any sign of life, but he's sticking to the script. Still, he didn't answer the question!

7:23 pm: Kevin looks a bit weak on the environment in my opinion. As I've said before, he should just say he supports the Harper targets and ask Ed if he does as well.

7:24 pm: Ed holds up his no two tier health care strategic plan sign, for the second time! No props! No Props!

7:35 pm: No offense to the gents, but this is looking like a bin round...

7:41 pm: From Mr. Bowie, on Ed Stelmach: "Is this his first election?". Me: "Yup." Bowie: "You can tell..."

7:53 pm: Another f'ing commercial break???? I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get a single question on ethics or accountability tonight since that was the opening for a knock-out punch....

8:00 pm: Following the debate we go right into "Big Love". make Paul Hinman joke...

Well, that's the debate. All in all, it certainly wasn't the greatest debate ever. I'm pretty bad at calling debates and I obviously have my biases, so take the following with a grain of salt:

I do think Taft was by far the best of the four - he was the only one who showed any form of emotion. Most importantly, I think he looked and sounded Premierial. But, that's only for those who watched. There was no...wait for the cliche..."knock out punch", so unless you watched, this debate likely won't change anyone's opinion.

Stelmach...well, they say debates reinforce your opinions, but I cannot imagine anyone watching this debate and thinking this guy is qualified to be Premier. I'm sorry, but he is by far the least inspiring politician ever elected to lead any party in Canada ever. On the plus side, he avoided saying anything overly dumb and no one really hit him hard enough to knock him down so Ed can likely breath easy that this one is over.

As for Hinman and Mason...meh. Neither did much for me, but they hit on their key themes so they should solidify their base, if nothing else. "I hate corporations"..."I hate government"...we get it!

I'm curious to hear other thoughts on the debate. Daveberta, Alberta Tory, the Edmonton Journal, ES, and Joel Kom were all live blogging.

FRIDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: First of all, I really do think we would have been better served with two commercial free 1 hour debates. Last night, there was nothing on education, nothing on ethics, hardly anything on royalties, and we were treated to the bizarre “auto insurance is a HUGE issue – you have 5 seconds each to explain your positions” question at the end.

As for the performances, the reviews are, as usual, mixed. I scanned a few less mainstream blogs and discussion boards and they were digging Hinman, although a few people thought he came across sounding too old fashioned with respect to child care. The media seems to be of the view that Stelmach won by virtue of not sucking as much as they expected him to, and I’d tend to agree with them. The “undecided voter” panel that Ipsos is running for the Herald had it as a four-way draw, which means Mason and Hinman were the big winners. The Journal’s “average Joe” panel seemed pretty positive towards Taft, and panned Mason by and large.

A few more quick run-down thoughts:

- Stelmach listened to his coaches well. He looked straight ahead and mechanically went into his talking points when instructed to. I’m not sure anyone really understood what he was saying but he tossed around enough examples and numbers that you could at least get the sense he was competent enough to run the province, even if he lacked in the “vision” department.

-Taft was playing more for the audience than the pundits, I think. He was trying to look like a Premier and show some passion, as supposed to just punching away at Stelmach all night. Was that a good strategy? Well, that depends on how far you think Stelmach has fallen. I think he gets good marks on content and delivery, although he had a few weird body language moments.

-My initial reaction was that Hinman and Mason played to their base well and I think that remains true. Hinman wasn’t afraid to put forward his “true conservative” policies and Mason was fighting for the little guy. I wasn’t overly impressed with Mason, truth be told (and I have called debates for Jack Layton before) but he managed to lure Taft into a few skirmishes which is what he had to do too.

-My favourite e-mail I got in response to the debate from a reader:

Taft last night: “Charisma doesn’t win elections. Charisma doesn’t get hospitals built. Charisma doesn’t get schools built.”
But she does put on a great show Tuesdays at the French Maid.

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  • Masons wife thinks he’s charismatic. LOL!!!

    By Blogger huffb1, at 9:06 p.m.  

  • I think Taft was too deep in platitudes, Stelmach got through the debate without any real damage, Mason and Hinman raised their profiles with their potential voters. No big winners but in terms of votes, the big loser was Taft.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:25 p.m.  

  • Taft looked good and showed some emotion.

    Stelmach's a complete moron.

    I liked Hinman's message, but not so much the messenger.

    Mason did his thing and was succesful at that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:29 p.m.  

  • Nobody delivered a knock-out blow on Stelmach, and Taft had to do that to have a chance at winning. So in essence, Stelmach wins because he doesn't lose.

    Once again the Liberals blow a perfect opportunity to gain momentum. If the Liberals can't win this province with Lawrence Decore as Leader, they will never win with Kevin Taft.

    By Blogger ridersrgr8, at 10:54 p.m.  

  • But what would have been a knock-out punch? Aren't we putting our expectations a bit high for one debate?

    I think Taft did well. I agree that nothing from the debate will start a flood of voters to the Liberals, but let's be realistic.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:01 p.m.  

  • Hey bud. Thanks for the beers and the pasta. I'll see you bright and early.

    By Blogger James Bowie, at 11:15 p.m.  

  • Stelmach was pathetic.

    That line about the federal liberals trying to steal our resources . . .

    How lame is that?

    But it probably does appeal to the intelligence level of the average Tory voter.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 12:29 a.m.  

  • I might have some more substantive comments, but most important: I thought we decided to never speak of Paul Hinman's sex life again...

    By Anonymous Naheed, at 1:02 a.m.  

  • I was pretty happy with our guy. He seeks out advice on how to improve and works like a dog. If you'd seen Hinman three years you'd be amazed at his progress. As I mentioned on my blog, the innovation theme was pure gold.

    By Blogger Brian Dell, at 1:36 a.m.  

  • Yawn....Eddy is no leader....Kevvy is...?...Brian would destroy our economy....Hinman is the only conservative. My vote was pretty much solidified. But man....would someone stand up and be a wee bit passionate?? Puhlease?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:22 a.m.  

  • "Bin bound" -- great use of debater lingo!

    By Blogger Padraic, at 9:02 a.m.  

  • As someone who follows this stuff closely, yeah, Stelmach won, due to low expectations.

    But if you've never heard the guy speak before? Eeek! That mustn't have been pretty.

    Taft did OK. He probably needed more than OK though to win this thing...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:03 p.m.  

  • Note to Alberta Liberals:
    Best new political strategy from the US: Link Stelmach to a "blonde lobbyist" (brunette will not do).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:46 p.m.  

  • You say Taft looked like a premier in debate but then he comes out with his half-baked plan for Alberta and calls it costed. This must be some kind of joke.

    Do Liberals even trust Taft with this provinces finances? They like to fancy themselves a government in waiting but this is just terrible.

    It would be like me trying to buy a home relying on getting a raise at work and reallocating money from my personal core services of food, water and electricity.

    Well lets see if I get a 200% raise at work and don't turn on any lights, and shower at the YMCA then yes I can afford that new Ferrari along with a new house!

    Just terrible, Liberals would really have to be blinded by party loyalty for this not to send up all kinds of red flags (no pun intended).

    By Anonymous Scott, at 1:15 a.m.  

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