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Know When To Put A Leash On It

There is a point with every political attack on an opponent when you have to put a leash on it and move on to another issue. Staying on an issue too long gives your opponent time to get organized and counter attack, thereby limiting your impact. Both the Khadr and Rolling Stone issues are good examples of this.

In the Khadr case the Conservatives did exceptionally well when they went on the attack against Trudeau’s decision to pay off a terrorist. The public outcry which they helped stoke made their point that it was a bad deal and taxpayers got hosed again by a Prime Minister who is soft on terrorists and who shows no concern for our hard earned tax dollars.

However, smelling a winning issue the Conservatives kept at it too long. Sending an MP to the United States to keep the issue going and in turn criticizing the Prime Minister while down there gave their opponents in PMO the opening they needed to push back. One can argue about how effective that pushback has been, but dragging the issue out for too long has allowed the Liberals to muddy the waters just enough that recent polls show the Khadr affair having little impact on the Liberals popularity. It will make a great attack ad for the Conservatives in 2019, remind Canadians then, right now they need to put a leash on it.

I would also add it is essential to check on your own party’s position on the very issue you are about to unleash. It is a dumb idea to attack a Canadian Prime Minister when you are in the United States if your own party had previously attacked their opponents for doing the same thing. It allows your opponents to completely muddy the water and switch the issue to one that they can capitalize on. In other words don't shoot yourself in your own foot. If you don’t know your own party’s record on an issue, you can bet your opponents political research staff do.

The Rolling Stone cover issue is another example. When the story came out, get in your attack and get out before your opponent recovers and pushes back. This type of fluff piece always offers an opportunity for some type of attack, both serious ones and humorous ones. Link it to almost anything you want (it is summer and not a lot of people are paying attention anyways) get your hit and get out. Staying on an issue such as this one for too long leads to absurd attacks such as the one that Trudeau gracing a magazine cover will somehow hurt Canada’s position in the NAFTA negotiations. That line of attack smacks of too much coffee in the OLO or staff drinking too much of thier own political Kool-Aid.

 Issues evolve every day, new ones come up and a good attack team can capitalize on them by constantly pivoting to a new issue just as your opponent figures out their counter attack. That is how the game is played. The Conservatives need to figure out when to put a leash on it and move on.

Reader Comments (1)

"This type of fluff piece always offers an opportunity for some type of attack, both serious ones and humorous ones.”
Conservatives going to the US making statements about Canadians’ outrage is overstating the issue. Yes, a poll did say 71% of Canadians were against the payment to Khadr but categorically stating “Canadians are outraged” is not completely accurate. Lately, polls have not been exact predictors of outcomes, have they?

Rather than use the NAFTA angle, the Conservatives should have read the Rolling Stone piece carefully and used humour, as you suggest, gently mocking both the author and the subject of the piece. For instance, the author of the piece describes Trudeau thus: "He speaks in a modulated, indoor voice. His dark hair is a color found in nature.” !?!

On the other hand, some of the words the author uses are telling, if largely unnoticed by those enamoured with Rolling Stone and Trudeau. He admits that “there's more than a little stagecraft” in Trudeau’s supposedly serendipitous encounters with Canadians. Evidence from the article dispels the notion that Trudeau is all about spontaneity.
° “frustratingly on message when it comes to political answers", i.e., scripted talking points.
° “Eco-spouting Trudeau”
° “Somehow, his official photographer always happens to be nearby.”
° “the choreographed way that Justin Trudeau rose to power”
° Even the notorious Brazeau vs Trudeau encounter:
"It wasn't random," Trudeau says. "I wanted someone who would be a good foil, and we stumbled upon the scrappy tough-guy senator from an indigenous community. He fit the bill, and it was a very nice counterpoint." Trudeau says this with the calculation of a CFO in a company-budget markup session. "I saw it as the right kind of narrative, the right story to tell," he says.
° And Trudeau pater was equally staged:
“Pierre famously did a seemingly spontaneous pirouette behind the queen in 1977 at Buckingham Palace, but even that was planned in advance.”

In contrast to the Rolling Stone puff piece (via a commenter at another blog):

July 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGabby in QC

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