I watched Don Newman's Politics tonight and was both intrigued and put off by the press gallery's take on the week that just went by.
They saw Dion's week differently than I did and I think differently than most Canadians who saw him did. Obviously, I'm a supporter, so I'm going to see it in a different light. That is not to say that the press don't have a built in bias too.
Now, I'm not referring to a political party bias. I'm referring to a bias of expectations to see politics and political leaders play the game in the traditional way. You have to know that these people have been avid political observers for some time and are junkies for the stuff just as we are, more so in fact. They look for the big traditional moments and gauge a campaign on that.
Paul Wells made an interesting comment and said that 'politics is a craft'. He's right to an extent, except with that statement he infers that it must always remain thus and models of the past are the only ones to go by. I disagree.
Oddly, the panel all nodded in unison at how May was doing things differently and it was a good thing, but they didn't say that about Dion. I grant you, May has a quirkiness about her and she's a good orator, but she's not status quo. Nor is Dion. Why is that not discussed? May is not going to be PM obviously, but they are putting out different standards for what makes news.
Dion is far more animated in front of groups than is Harper, yet they see Harper as solid. He's not evasive with the press, and while Harper has been more open this time around, he still ducks the issues and throws out patent nonsense. Yet they give Harper credit for his handling of the press. Bizarre.
It's very curious to me that not once during the discussion did they speak to the substance of what each person is offering this country. They did mention the Green Shift, only to reinforce the ridiculous cliche that it's complicated. This on a day when Dion offered Canadians:
A Liberal government will invest $575 million over four years to:
double direct financial support to $10,000 for any household that invests in energy-saving measures like insulation, weatherproofing and efficient heating systems;
provide interest-free green mortgage loans of up to $10,000 per household to help Canadians pay for the up-front costs of major energy-saving home retrofits; and
create a $140-million Low-income Homes Retrofit Partnership Fund to help upgrade low-income housing across Canada – including federally-funded co-operative housing – and reduce energy costs for those least able to pay.
No, the issue is the media is not interested in the substance of what each man and one woman is offering. They are only interested in the manner in which it is being offered and our country is being done a disservice by this mindset, imo.
We should ask them what Harper is offering Canada and hey, maybe they should ask him that question too. So far, I've seen precious little of that.
Dion has never made a secret of the fact that he was going to do things differently. Russo suggested that Dion was strident in his reaction to the juvenile website puffin attack on himself. Strident? His reaction was, 'it says more about them than it does about us'. How is that strident? Gentlemen and lady, if you would care to look at the Conservative message, it falls under the definition of strident in every dictionary. How'd you miss that? Why do you not speak to look that?
I've also noticed that a few fellow bloggers are getting panicky about recent polls. I won't link, you can search the blogs for yourself. I think it is nonsense to rely on rolling polls after 5 days. Rolling polls are designed to correct direction, they are not predictors.
Can we do things a bit differently? Of course, that's what elections are about but, if you expect Dion to be who he is not, you're dreaming. I see who he is and how he wants to proceed as an asset. Can he change some things? Sure. That's what campaigns are for.
My number one choice would be to ask the media why they are not speaking to issues. Every call-in show I listen to, Canadians say they want to know and hear the issues. They are tired of the junk and want to know what each leader is offering. No one is actually reporting that.
When media catches up with that sentiment, it may be too late. We need to push them to focus now.
Newman may like PM's and Presidents who are good actor's, and I take his point, but that is not what the country needs right now.
At this moment in time, we need someone with vision, not someone who is happy with the status quo. The media is happy to push status quo, perhaps unknowingly, but they are sending a bad, incorrect, message.
They are doing us a disservice. I for one am tired of them deciding what the next 4 years will look like.
The dumbing down of politics has become a mainstay of pretty intelligent people. How did that happen?
Update - Steve has a similar take.