Thursday, April 21, 2005

State of the Disunion Address

4:55 pm: I check the TV Times to see my viewing options: it’s basically between Everybody Loves Raymond and Everybody Hates Liberals…I guess I’ll give Paul a chance.

Round 1
5:02 pm:This occurred under a Liberal government”, “unjustifiable mess”, “I will be politically accountable”…boy, Harper’s going to have a tough time toping this.

5:03 pm: Paul says “I’m sorry”. Good move.

5:08 pm: Gomery will report December 15th…an election within 30 days means a January call for a February vote. So Martin's begging for close to a year – that’s a long time in minority government politics.

5:09 pm: The camera slowly zooms in as Paul Martin talks about his father being in Cabinet. I think this election might mark the first time in the history of Canadian politics that a politician will be playing for “pity votes”.

Analysis of Paul: Good performance. I strongly disagree with Paul Wells that this challenge will work, but it gives the Liberals a campaign "issue". They can get up and say “Stephen Harper didn’t let Judge Gomery report”. Martin’s always good on a prepared texts and he’s got that Uncle Louis vibe to him…very strong performance, as expected.

Round 2
5:10 pm: Harper comes out swinging. I still can’t get over how confident this guy has looked over the past two weeks. He bluntly says that Prime Ministers do not go on national TV “begging for yet another chance” and that “this is not how a Prime Minister should act.” Like I predicted, Harper is trying to look like a Prime Minister and is succeeding.

5:11 pm: Mentions the Liberals shutting down the Public Accounts Committee last year…expect to hear a lot of that during the election. Also mentions the “fiscal imbalance” during his French speech.

5:15 pm: The guy is really playing to Quebec voters. Lots of French and he spends the last half of his speech talking about La Belle Province.

5:16 pm: The “corruption” counter hits 7. I’m disappointed in Steve – he’s well bellow his usual 2.5 CRpM ratio (corruption references per minute).

Analysis of Steve: Looked really good and hammered home the key points. Kept bobbing back and forth which was kind of annoying – I don’t want to sound like his mother but the guy needs to work on his posture.

Round 3
5:18 pm: (NOTE: I didn’t actually keep track on the times - I’m pretty much making them up…) Opens by saying that when Jean Chretien addressed the country in 1995 “he did so to save Canada”. Seriously. I think that’s the most (only) shocking thing anyone said during the half-hour.

5:20 pm: The CBC translator translates Ducceppe’s statement into “besmirched Democracy”. This girl deserves a raise…besmirched isn’t an easy word to pull out.

5:22 pm: I don’t know who Ducceppe’s English coach is but he’s talking in this drawn out Texas drawl: “fe-dee-rawl-ism”.

Analysis of Gilles: Playing up the separatist angle a lot in his speech. Also trying to draw Martin into it as best he can with the “you were Minister of Finance when this happened” line.

Round 4
5:25 pm: Jack Layton echoes the opposition leaders by saying “this is not a national crisis.” This is probably the first time in the history of politics that the opposition is trying to downplay a scandal.

5:26 pm: Jack refuses to talk about the scandal and is instead discussing issues. ISSUES? Who does this guy think he is? That’s it, I’m changing channels.

5:27 pm: Ha ha ha. Oh, that Raymond. When will he ever learn…

Analysis of Jack: In all seriousness, he was the best of the bunch. Actually talked about the issues and making Parliament work. The NDP base soaks up stuff like that. The commentators spent as much time talking about Layton’s offer to modify the budget as they did about Martin’s offer to call an election in January. This NDP ploy could backfire, but I really like the way Layton is approaching this. Play the good cop in the “good cop/bad cop/separatist cop” routine with Harper and Ducceppe.

Post-Game Show:
-The CBC shows us George Strombalopalopalopapoulos talking to Canadians instead of the opposition leaders’ scrum. Thanks a lot. I really care what Angie in Vancouver has to say more than Stephen Harper.
-Way to win over the BC voters with a 4 pm Press Conference Paul.
-The local CBC news shows this blog on their newscast. Cool.
-Allan Gregg hits it right on the money when he says Martin continues to help his popularity at the expense of the Liberal brand.

Basically, I don’t think this will make a huge difference. Everyone rehashed what they’ve been saying for the past few weeks. Martin looked really good, but he was followed up by half an hour of opposition leaders who also looked good bashing him. Still, he’ll get most of the media clips so it was likely worth the risk. I’ll be very curious to see if this has any real impact on voters – my gut tells me no, but we’ll see.


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