Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Back to business

Got some gaffe catching up to do. Forgive the uberpost.

First up, I heard this one quite some time ago, and brushed it off, but two readers (Tilting at Windmills' Kevin Brennan, and RevMod's own guest blogger Bear) have argued me up to "gaffe".

[Shirley] Chan ... has found herself in an unseemly spat with her NDP opponent Libby Davies in Vancouver East. When Ms. Chan criticized Ms. Davies for wasting taxpayers' money by flying her "girlfriend around" under the spousal-partner visiting program for MPs, Ms. Davies accused her of homophobic remarks.

Ms. Chan ... retorted: "I would say that she [Ms. Davies] is homophobic. She denies being a lesbian, but lives with a woman. And she doesn't call her her spouse; she calls her her partner."

Ms. Davies said she has never denied having a same-sex partner since their relationship began.
Shirley Chan is the same candidate that apologised to all but Tories for her volunteer's inappropriate e-mail slandering Tories. Now she's accusing her gay opponent of being a homophobe. There's a parallel here, I'm sure, but I'm not getting my finger quite on it. Nonetheless, SIG=1, PROM=1, total one point for Team Martin... sorry for the delay.

Another regular reader, Andrew Anderson of Bound by Gravity, helps add to the Liberal score, with this story about Liberal incumbent candidate John O'Reilly who published an ad in the local paper, supporting traditional marriage.

Now, let me take a moment here to try to straighten out something in my own head. "In favour of traditional marriage" is code for "opposed to same-sex marriage". I don't get that at all. The only people I know who can be described, literally, as "opposed to traditional marriage" are radical feminist types. Say, my ex-girlfriend, c. 1994, for instance - and she's since involved herself in a traditional marriage. I'm left wondering who we might be talking about at all. But in particular, gay couples who want to get married have to think pretty favourably toward "traditional marriage", given that they want to tie themselves to the same institution. My point? "In favour of traditional marriage" is nonsense.

Because of this, I've asked Andrew if he might find me a link to, or a scan of, the ad. But I'm relenting - it seems pretty clear that what's discussed all through this article is opposition to gay marriage, no matter if O'Reilly comes out and says it or not. And given that this is a cut point Martin was trying very hard to build between himself and the Conservatives, that's gaffe, baby.

But I'm going to allow myself a little retrospect on this... it was barely noticed by the national media. It should have cost the Liberals something, but it really didn't. Another SIG=1, PROM=1, total: one more point for Big Red.

Finally, the big one of the week, the one that defined the days since: the Conservatives, through various released and withdrawn press releases, suggest that Paul Martin is in favour of child porn.

Child porn? Is this all the Conservatives have? Is this all Harper can be certain his whole caucus will safely agree on? Or was this the Conservative attempt to make Harper's dissembling on s. 33 of the Charter during the debate look like it was actually on-topic? Did those debate comments get a big green "agree" spike from the focus group?

The Toronto Star (and thanks to reader Brent H. for that specific link) has compared the release to the "reptilian kitten-eater" gaffe during the Ontario provincial election, but I think that's unfair. After all, Ernie Eves didn't actually expect voters to believe that Dalton McGuinty dined on cat kabobs... it was a joke. While the Conservatives may have thought better of the release, and withdrew it (then released it again with a slightly less inflammitory headline, then withdrew it again), they weren't kidding when they wrote it. Either they're exceptionally cynical to use an issue like child porn this way, or they're incapable of believing that their political opponents are decent people. I don't know which of those I'd rather believe. Either possibility makes a Conservative minority goverment uncomfortable and unstable.

Scoring this one is trickier. Who's responsible? Can't really say. I'm going to call it "Central Campaign" and mark the PROM as a two. How important was the mistake? Well, because Harper hasn't withdrawn from anything except the initial headline, it's become a big deal - it's been the flashpoint that's defined the shape of the last few days. And yet, I'm not sure I can describe that all as "gaffe" - it may be that the Conservatives really thought they could score political points trying to position themselves as anti-child porn, that is was less "gaffe" and more "plan gone horribly wrong". The release-withdrawal-release-withdrawal (I'm concerned about the Google search hits that might produce) makes it gaffe, though. One SIG for each iteration of the release/withdrawal makes PROM=2, SIG=2, total of four more points for the party that loves its kids more than any other. Sure, they're racking up a score, but on the bright side, they're opposed to the sexual exploitation of children. So, you know, that's good.

Total for this post, two for the Liberals, four for the Conservatives.

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