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Post Debate Thoughts

October 3, 2008

 Some random thoughts over the day about last night’s debate, yes our debate.  First off, I found it entertaining that the host was thinking about his competition down south with the Palin-Biden debate going on at the same time (who scheduled that!?).  But my friends and I actually left the Canadian debate on thewhole time even if we didn’t hear half of it as we argued politics amongst ourselves.

Duceppe

Always a surreal experience to have you here, is your seat comfortable? Oh good.

Yes No, Prime Minister

Harper was perfectly set into his character this campaign, dull, placid and unflappable.  He seems to be purposely contriving a look of condescention, looking down on the bickering children of “the other parties”.  He’s trying to be the adult at the table.  The most striking thing about the entire debate of course is that its, mostly, everyone attacking him.  This actually strengthens him in a strange way because it clarifies the race as everyone trying to defeat him, but then, that is the truth so why deny it?

The only interesting thing that sticks in my mind about Harper’s responses was his attempt to spin the Atlantic Accord fiasco. Remember Harper made a deal with the maritimes about oil revenues and then reneged on it.  He said he’d made peace with Nova Scotia about it, May chimed in with some helpful info to put this in context.  But then he said that he knows obviously Newfoundland isn’t happy about…  He didn’t really offer a solution or indicate that he cared, he just acknowledged that Newfoundlanders and their premier are very upset.  But we all felt his response basically came down to “Ofcourse Newfoundland is throwing up a stink about it, but what you gonna do?  F*%#ing Newfies.  You just can’t reason with them”  Of course he didn’t say that, but his smirk and his condescension at that moment really sent the message loud and clear.  Newfies.  I hope the rest of the Maritimes rise to their brother’s defense on this.  And I hope the large contingent of east coast commedians and media pundets tear apart on this attitude.

Mr Dion would you like to respond?…oh, you wouldn’t, well, ok….

Well, he’d like to, and he did try.  I think the last half hour Mr. Dion did very well, he had some great moments of intensity on issues of honesty and the environment that are exactly what he needs to do all the time.  His strong suites are that people think he’s smart, nice and honest.  He just needs to show some of that passion and keep pointing out all the broken promises the conservatives have made.  If a lot of Canadians were watching the other debate and only tuned in for the last half hour then Dion will fare well.  But if they saw the previous hour and a half of his performance then I think its going to fare badly for him.  Seared in retina is a particular exchange where Stephane puts his hand for to respond and Jack jumps in to talk over him.  Or another time with the camera straight on Dion while he’s talking.  He’s interrupted, by Jack again, and he throws his hands up in way we’ve all seen now in a million Conservative campaign ads and fliers.  He wants every to be polite and give him a chance to talk.  We feel sorry for him, we want it to all be fair, but, it isn’t.  Jack won’t back down. And even if he did someone else would jump in.  Dion’s answers also were always very clear.  Its not just his accent, its the way he strings his thoughts together.  He thinks great thoughts but not quickly.  I often found Duceppe easier to follow than Dion which was dissapointing.

Oh Jack…

I think Jack Layton put in one of the best performances. He was clear, concise, passionate without seeming crazed.  He looked and sounded like a real leader.  He often got the last word in and had some real zingers against Harper.  However…he did spend a lot more time than I liked attacking Dion.  It just doesn’t seem to be a winning strategy for either of them to fight amongst themselves.  You could just see Harper sit back and relax a few times as Layton, or Dion, veered off of what started as an attack on Harper to retort some comment by the other.  This is counterproductive to their goal, which should be to both do as well as possible and defeat Harper.  In reality, Layton’s goal seems to be to pull as much possible support from Dion and usurpe the Liberals as the opposition.  I think thats a delusion although he is doing better at it than I would have imagined.  Unless this strategy goes along with a deal to work with the Liberals in coalition then I don’t see the up side when the Conservatives win a majority government.  And Laytons incessant attacks on Dion do not make it easy to form such a coalition.

Green Day

Save the best for last?  For the record, Elizabeth May did actually get the last word in the debate throwing in a comment to support democracy after Harper finished his final answer. May did very well. She came across as a capable, intelligent leader.  Her policy answers were refined and didn’t just seem like an extreme left wing ideology.  She pointed out that she was closer to Harper on taxes than the others while simultaneously slamming him on his environmental record.  I think it was a fantastic performance.  I hope it means she can win a seat or two.

On the part when she was talking about broken promises like the Atlantic Accord she gave Harper some good zingers and I thought she missed a bit of an opportunity to remind people of the history of breaking contracts in his party by Peter McKay when he dissolved the PC party for his own career ambitions.

So how did that other debate go?

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