Further to the release of the ads, I've read some commentary, listened to Cross Country Check-up (subject: upcoming election) and followed comments all over the internet.
I can't say that anything has surprised me. The usual suspects have uttered the predictable lines.
Imagine my shock at reading that the partisans for the NDP and the CPC don't think much of the ads. I so thought they would come out cheering! And the anti-Ignatieff, but supposedly still Liberal crowd? Well given that he is front and centre, they were predictable too.
One complaint seems to be that the ads are bland, not enough policy, details, etc. Well, instead of calling that reaction laughable, let's take a look at reality.
The summer is winding down, literally, this weekend. Accepted wisdom tells us that no one has been paying any attention to politics throughout the summer and they are just now tuning into what is happening in the country.
The other point that is often made, is that Ignatieff isn't well known. As I see it, this is his opening foray to correct that. I read somewhere that there are 3 more ads to come. My guess would be that the English ad will be done in French and the two French ads, will air in English, though I may be proven wrong.
Here's the thing. Anyone that has been exposed to advertising and how to build a campaign, knows that you start with specific obvious objectives and your plan is to build on them, based both on reaction and a logical plot line.
For anyone to have expected policy announcement, is ridiculous. There IS no election at this point remember. That's not immediately what these ads are about, though of course ultimately they are, but specifics will come out when appropriate. Political junkies may be anxious for detail, but you are not the target of the ads.
I'd also like to pass on a general feel from Cross Country Check-up. Often, the shows that focus on politics, have a pretty Conservative call in. The likes of Dr. Roy call repeatedly and I can only presume that an e-mail is sent out to the base, encouraging calls.
Today? I heard crickets chirp from that hard core base. A couple of Harper supporters called in, but overall, the lines were jammed with people, maybe not anxious for an election, but really anxious to boot Harper out. They were not all Liberals. Many NDP called too, but former Conservatives, Progressive Conservatives, were the ones that intrigued me.
A call-in show, does not an outcome guarantee, but there was a sense out there that I found encouraging. Not just the prospect of Harper's ouster, but more the level of knowledge in terms of what he is doing to the country. Even the least articulate of caller had that sense.
Our reputation in the world was brought up more than a few times. Citizenship and how Harper plays with that was big too. The general theme though was how Harper is completely incapable of being the leader of a minority government.
Hurray! Finally it felt as though people were getting it.
As I said, a call-in show can hardly be used as a barometer for an election that hasn't been called, but hearing NDP and PC supporters claim that they will vote for the Liberals to get Harper out, was music to this Liberal's ears.
Oh, one more quick thing. When I first saw the ads, I thought, fantastic contrast to what the Conservatives have offered. Ignatieff is speaking to the adults in the room and the Conservatives as we know, have been playing to the pimply teenagers who need to feel better about themselves by putting someone else down.
My hope was that the Conservatives wouldn't change their strategy, because played out over time, the contrast would be striking. For today anyway, my hope was not dispelled. Jason Kenney released this statement, (via Susan Delacourt).
Risky business that. We have plenty of examples of Harper denigrating the country that go back that far and further, NCC anyone? Not to mention that Kenney takes the statements out of context, as is usual.
I particularly like the US reference and elite mention by Kenney. He who studied in San Fransisco with the elite of the philosophical debate world, the Jesuits. He dropped out though... Draw your own conclusions. Hint, it wasn't because he thought they were too elite.
The statement is pap and thankfully keeping the discussion in the gutter. I say thankfully, because the Conservative tact has been to discourage voters from voting. Keeping the message low-brow to turn people off. I'd say it worked. I'd also say, the time has passed for it to have an effect any longer.
From everything I saw, heard and read today, people are tired of the nonsense.
Let the contrast begin!