Saturday, December 02, 2006

A voice cried out in the wilderness, "40% and majority government"

Previously on "fun and frolics at the Palais de Congres" - only one Liberal still really understands politics. Jean Chretien. Winning's not everything, it's the only thing (since only Ministers get to make patrimony appointments).

The format for the speech portion was led off a flashy introductory video for each candidate, undoubtedly made by the ad agency friends who get government money shovelled at them when Liberals are in government as with the federal Adscam and the Ontario trillium logo and government website "oops they accidentally came out looking Liberal" fiascos.

I didn't see all the speeches (and occasionally hit MUTE on some of the ones I did) but most led off with a intro speaker. Dion must have regretted having Glen Pearson, who beat Elizabeth May in London North Centre (a homophobe and a backstabber were also on the ballot), do a well-intentioned though laboured intro as it led to Dion himself being cut off before his peroration.

I didn't see Brison's speech but I did see one line which the news picked up later. Can we please have an end to "It's the ------------, stupid!" (Brison used "green economy", by the way) The reason it was persuasive when Clinton used it was because it was novel, pithy and skewering the visionless Bush I years. Now it's just hackneyed and poorly delivered.

Kennedy (who isn't an MP) had Justin Trudeau (who isn't an MP either) lead him off. Justin should lay off the hair products (it was pretty shiny) unless it was Rogaine to overcome his paternal heritage - maybe Jose Theodore suggested it. Kennedy just reminds me of the Irish adage "he's too sweet to be wholesome". Maybe it's his food bank background, or that his first seat used to be Bob Rae's, or that his recent political ground is the leftier-every-day Parkdale-High Park but he seems like he'd almost be more comfortable in the NDP - and in that case why pick the apprentice when the master is running too?

As a side note, the way his first name is pronounced just reminds me of when Gerry Collins became Minister for Foreign Affairs (and thus "Ge-rard" not "Gerry") leading to several digs from the Scrap Saturday team.

I don't think Rae or Ignatieff had an intro speaker which was wise - if I was pitching to be prime minister I would (a) have been introduced about 200 times at chicken suppers by now and (b) should want to use every second available to me. In fact I would also have eschewed the video - if I wanted to show off my endorsements I could bring them on stage like a rapper at an awards show.

Rae recycled the "what about the vegetables? They'll have steak too" joke on Harper which has been used for Margaret Thatcher and Charles Haughey, even Dick Cheney, although tying it to the Michael Chong resignation might have updated it at least. He looked like he had forgotten his next point at one moment but he pulled it back and it was a pretty impressive performance - not so much a speech as a talk. He couldn't forgo a subtle dig that "his faults are known" leaving the reminder of future Ignatieff "gaffes" to come.

As for Ignatieff I will defer to Andrew Coyne in the Post:
"Mr. Ignatieff spoke with the cadence of a slightly annoyed first-year history prof."
"did he have to repeat every cliche twice?"
"If Mr. Dion's speech was overstuffed, Mr. Ignatieff's was almost entirely, indeed ludicrously, content-free."
Those cliches came, incidentally, once in each official language (although his safety-first delivery meant that the translator didn't actually flatten the French version since the English version was equally limp). His expression seemed somewhat pained in contrast to Rae's chilled out, let's talk as equals demeanor. It does not bode well for someone being pitched to beat Stephen "I take my kids to hockey games" Harper - he was the one who needed to go skinny dipping with Rick Mercer, not Bob Rae.

[Incidentally - check out Rick Mercer's own view on the top two from his blog]
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