Thursday, April 21, 2005

The "best advice money can buy" isn't what it used to be

Seriously what were Martin's handlers thinking when they proposed this lousy national address idea. This is the political equivalent of some loser poker player insisting after a night of losing that the stakes be quadrupled so that he can win back his money. A national address vastly increases the volatility of the situation and the only way to turn it positive is to make a total turnaround and deliver an entirely perfect message. Here is my breakdown of the situation.

The Optics
Okay, so in response to allegations that Chretien and co. did all these bad things that at their worst essentially amounted to campaigning for election on the public dime Martin is going to deliver a Chretien style address with the distinct possibility of an election around the corner and ask that the country's television stations broadcast it for free? How can campaigning for free possibly make Martin look better?

Is parliament really gridlocked?
This supposed parliamentary standoff seems to be the only reasonable justification for this message. But, as far as the media is reporting the only thing out of the ordinary in the House of Commons is the opposition's unwillingness to stop beating up on the government during QP and at the Public Accounts committee. Oh yeah, and the little matter of Tony Valeri (more annoying every day) trying to screw around with when opposition supply days are held because...wait for it...the majority of parliament wanted to exercise their democratic right to schedule them.

What's he going to say?
Here's pretty much what I think he'll try to say. Pretty much the same "Chretien bad, me good" and "we're trying to govern, the opposition just wants to kick us while we're down." It will be obviously close to a campaign ad and will definitely not warrant the time slot. This whole national appeal really seems like the last bomb in the arsenal and I think the Liberals will be pretty disappointed by the results if it's just the same message as the last three weeks. I really hope that Harper asks for and is given an opportunity to reply. Say about a 75% chance that we get something like this.

An unlikely possibility
He'll announce new policy moves that the Tories and/or NDP will have to agree to. This seems like the only possible way to make calling an election a campaign liability for either of them. Also opening talks with Ontario for federal money would take some of the wind out of the opposition's sails. I give this about 20%.

Even more unlikely
He'll announce something much more dramatic and unexpected like an election or prorogation or that he's asked Gomery to move his report up three months. This is especially unlikely because it's exactly what they are saying they *won't* do. All the same, 4.5% chance.

The most unlikely
Martin will talk for a minute or so then the camera will zoom out to reveal Chretien sitting beside him. Chretien will go on to take total responsibility for the scandal and talk about how much Honest Paul was a thorn in his side during all this corruption. Chretien will then suggest that we blame him for everything and ask us to vote for Martin. I hope that I clearly convey how unlikely I think this outcome is by giving it 0.5% chance of happening.


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