Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Wake Me When It's Over
They folded on Afghanistan. They folded on the Tory budget. They even folded on their own amendments. They folded on the environment. Every time the Tories shout "boo" Stephane Dion dives for cover and takes his MPs with him.
He was supposed to get his government ready to fight an election. That's the first rule when leading a party in a minority parliament.
Now he's up against it. He goaded the Tories with a tax cut and they're calling his bluff. Will Dion fold again? Does it even matter? James Travers, writing in the Toronto Star, argues that Dion allowed himself to be outflanked even on his strongest issue:
While the Conservative performance is long-term threatening to the environment, the Liberal failure is more immediately politically damaging.
The difference for Dion is that the environment is a point of a departure, an easily grasped way of presenting Liberals as the vector for a country moving forward in optimism, not back in nostalgia.
How the party skidded past that point puzzles even many Liberals. But two factors are clear.
One is that Dion's green credentials had more currency with the party than they now have with the public.
The other is that Conservatives were as skilfully swift in positioning Dion as an impotent environmentalist as they were framing him as a weak leader.
Even before the echoes of Dion's victory speech faded, Harper's spin-doctors were tracing the sorry record of Liberals who signed Kyoto but did next to nothing to rise to its challenges.
Since then, outflanking Dion on potential ballot questions has become the Conservative norm. They succeeded on Afghanistan and the management of a slowing economy while the renewed climate activity coupled with last night's vote on the NDP motion leave Dion without a compelling election issue.
- Update - This post has attracted a great deal of interest from Blogging Tories and their ilk. Before you do something embarrassing in your drawers, calm down. This post is about Mr. Dion, not the Liberal Party which, as each of you knows in the dim recesses of your narrow minds, will be back in due course. You, my friends, are gloating on borrowed time.
A quick question. Where would you be if you didn't have a leader like Harper? If there was ever a time you ought to be steamrollering the opposition into a powerful mega-majority, this is it. But you're not, not even close and you can blame lard-ass for screwing up your great and yet fleeting opportunity.