Monday, February 05, 2007

Some Friendly Advice to Jason Cherniak (and Other Libloggers)

I have rather enjoyed the parodies/responses to the Tory attack ads that you posted here and here. It's really not that difficult to dig up embarrassing quotes on Harper and the environment, but kudos to you for putting them in video form.

There is one thing though that I fear you may be overlooking: the attacks on Dion seem like classic Karl Rove tactics. You know this one, hit your opponent's strength. Dion ran on the environment, so that's where Harper hit him. The trap that the classic Rove move sets for you though is that you hit back in the same place. That's the desired effect - at least I think it is.

Here's why: In 2004, one of the principle perceived strengths of John Kerry as a candidate was his distinguished military service in combat (versus Bush's somewhat spotty record in the relative safety of the Texas Air National Guard). So what do to, attack Kerry's military record (by proxy of course). Sure, the Dems could hit back in the same way, but in the end, what Rove did was nullify military service as a dimension of the campaign. Partisans knew whose military record they liked better, but the general public was confused.

In the same manner, I think Harper's people want to nullify the environment as an issue. Most Canadians probably already consider Harper only slightly better than the Exxon Valdez on the environment. By confusing people on who has a good environmental record though, the Tories take it off the table as a way of differentiating between parties. Sure, nerds like me who read political blogs will know what's up, but Joe Voter just gets the vague sense that neither leader is a darling on the environment.

So here's what I'd do, make sure to respond to attacks, but also attack the CPC's perceived strengths.

Here's an example:
The Tories are trying to cast themselves as anti-corruption/cleaner government/more accountable, well, look at every government procurement. Harper's new defense spending should make this easy. Every maintenance contract that ends up in a cabinet minister's riding should get a mention. Every time you mention Gordon O'Connor, say "former defense industry lobbyist Gordon O'Connor" even if it is a mouth-full. Does anything stink about O'Connor's contacts in the industry and the C-17 contract?

See where I'm going? Don't just hit Harper where he hits you, hit him where he thinks he's stronger.

Labels: , , , , , , ,