I wish I could say that the three opposition leaders smoked Great Ugly Leader last night, and that they were still hoovering him off the floor. But they didn’t, so I can’t. Because at this point delusion could kill us.
They held their own, they landed some good blows, but their attacks weren’t focused enough, and they missed too many good opportunities to put Stephen Harper on the defensive.
The good news? The debate probably won’t move many voters. The bad news? The debate probably won’t move many voters. And by not losing Stephen Harper probably won.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s how I scored it:
STEPHEN HARPER: He looked so pretty I was sure he was wearing lipstick, and he was definitely on some kind of tranquilizer . . . probably Zombie dust from Haiti. He creeped me out by staring straight into the camera with those cold, dead piggy eyes.
But then that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re in a television studio. Forget your three opponents and address your three million viewers instead. And by restraining the beast within him, he probably didn’t scare any voters, and for him that’s a small victory.
GILLES DUCEPPE: He had the best line of all: “Mr Harper is tough on criminals, just not those in his government.” He also rattled Harper with his charge that Harper had tried to form a coalition in 2004. But his English let him down, and when he went after Harper for his deal with Newfoundland and Labrador, he probably delivered that province to the Cons. Dommage.
JACK LAYTON: He looked really good, the most relaxed and friendly of the four leaders. He scored points going after Harper on medicare, and bringing up what he had said on that subject in the past. But he wasn’t specific enough. Imagine how much more effective he could have been if he had memorized this quote:
And asked Harper to explain how he could expect ANYONE to trust him?
And then there’s the sad fact that Jack’s most devastating blow was the one he aimed at Ignatieff over his attendance record. You can be sure that the Conservatives will have that one in an attack ad by tomorrow morning. And use it against BOTH of them.
MICHAEL IGNATIEFF: Considering it was his first debate, and the pressure on him, I thought he did better than expected. Just not good enough to shake the tree. He did hammer Harper on the democracy question, but he kept repeating himself. He looked beat, and at some points disoriented. When Jack hit him with the attendance record he could have said he was out listening to what ordinary Canadians had to tell him, but instead he just looked rattled. And when for some reason he addressed Duceppe in French, it was just bizarre.
But I thought Ignatieff’s greatest failing was that he looked too worried and angry, and not confident and hopeful enough. He spent a lot of time attacking the Cons, but not enough time promoting his own program.
While Harper, when he wasn’t lying or evading questions, promoted his budget baubles like a robot.
So what does all this mean? It depends on the spin from the MSM. But my guess is not too much. The progressive leaders all emerged relatively unscathed from their encounter with the werewolf robot. I doubt many people’s minds were changed. And there is still a lot of campaign to go, and the drip drip of scandal to take its toll.
What is clear to me though is that we have to sharpen our message. If we can’t convince Canadians that a Harper majority would be a frightening prospect it’s all over.
We also have to work harder than ever to get that message out and convince people to vote, because our leaders can’t win this one alone.
So tonight at Simon’s Anybody But Harper Party Saloon we’re featuring this website to help people vote strategically.
Work hard. Vote smart. Leaders are leaders.
But the future is up to ALL of us . . .