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

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Finally, the Harper gaffe opening-day scoring (C-5, L-0, BQ-0, ND-0)

You've all been on the edge of your seats, I know. For the same-sex marriage comments, no score. For the "I Heart Canada" Mumbly-Joeing, (sig)1 x (prom)3 gives the left side of the Gaffe-o-Meter (but the right side of our hearts) a total of five. Let me explain myself.

First of all, the pass on same-sex marriage. Yes, social conservative views are the weakest spot on the Tory platform. Talk of reopening the debate only serves to shore up support that was probably a near-lock for the Conservatives already. It meanwhile carries the risk of alienating voters who are otherwise leaning toward "throw the bums out". How can't it be a gaffe? Well, first and foremost it undermines the "secret agenda" thing. The question was asked, and he answered it straightforwardly. Second, he did it at the start of the campaign. There was some risk of helping the Liberals define the election debate along the lines of "scary Tories" (something even Harper predicts they will do, in nearly every speech), but he bought lots of time to undo any damage, and it's likely that there's a huge metaphorical "reset" button on the campaign right around Jan. 2. Third, he gave the caucus crazies their talking points for the next seven weeks - a Myron Thompson talking out of turn about gay marriage won't derail the campaign. But best of all, listen to what he promised. A free vote. On reopening the debate. In other words, given that a minority is nearly inevitable, nothing at all. It even gives his own moderates some cover: "Sure, I'm against it, but the decision is made. Why reopen old wounds? I'm voting no." Nope, rather than a gaffe, this was an ingenious move, closing one of the larger holes left over from the last campaign.

Unfortunately, another weakness of the Tories is the image that many of them, and their supporters, really don't like it here. I don't think it's a fair assessment, by any stretch, but it's understandable how someone might draw that conclusion. I've endured hearing from - again - the old-timey Reform types about how much better life must be in the United States. We should be in Iraq. We should have been in the 'Nam. How come we don't have a Second Amendment, and capital punishment? Why shouldn't I get better access to health care than someone who's never done a lick of work in their life? The Tories can't afford that set of beliefs to even be hinted at among their candidates, and certainly not from the leader.

I'm certain that Stephen Harper loves Canada (firewalls notwithstanding). I suspect all Harper's response really proved about Harper is that he's a private man, not taken to overzealous expressions of public emotion. I can't blame him for that. But I can happily score him a few points on the Gaffe-o-Meter.

No comments: