Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Liberals Getting Desperate

With the Liberal party facing its greatest popularity crisis since Stephane Dion assumed leadership, the Liberal party stepped up its attack against Harper today, releasing two more ads.

This, added to a spot released three days ago, frankly show the Dion campaign in full panic mode, pulling the George W Bush card in a desperate attempt to polarize this election.

The first spot -- released on September 27 -- insists that Canada is "falling behind" under Stephen Harper. The Liberals are trying to counter-brand Harper as regressive and backward thinking:

The ad tries to portray Stephane Dion's Green Shift as in line with global trends by noting the other countries that are investing in Green economic growth. Newspaper clippings denoting the policy advancements by various countries -- Britain, Germany and (ironically) the United States -- appear cast against a fluttering image of each country's flag.

The ad then abruptly shifts, accusing Harper of cutting $60 billion to "Green jobs" (naturally, the spot doesn't mention that Harper quickly restored the funding under re-designed -- but similar -- prograns).

For the first time, the speaker providing the voice overs for the Liberal ads sounds increasingly outraged as the ad goes on. As one will see with today's pair of ads, this is becoming thematic of the Liberal campaign.

The second two ads push the anti-Bush button, and play it hard:

The first ad brings up an issue from five years ago, mentioning Harper's support for the Iraq war.

Soldiers are shown marching in between inter-cut photos of Harper with George W Bush, noting that if Harper had his way, Canadian troops would be in Iraq. The ad then turns to Afghanistan (ironically, a war the Liberals themselves committed Canada to) and questions Harper's commitment to withdrawing groups.

A now frantic-sounding male voice asks "Can we really trust him on something so important? Do you really want to find out?"

But the true desperation of the Liberal campaign comes shining through in the third spot, entitled "Harpernomics and Bush":

The first Liberal ad claims the Canadian economy is in a "tailspin" and accuses Harper of parroting and emulating Bush by claiming the economy is strong and allowing industry to self-regulate.

However, following a Bush-riddled attack on Harper, the ad then tries to abruptly shift into Liberal promises to "strengthen the social safety net in tough times" -- something they previously did the opposite of -- balance the already-balanced budget, and "put people first".

The spot concludes by telling Canadians the Liberal party is "always there for you."

These latter two spots coincide with the launching of a slick new website promoting a hypothetical Bush/Harper campaign.

A George W Bush impersonator greets visitors to the site, saying "welcome to our website. My pal Steve and I have the same economic plan... if you can call it that. Heck, he would've joined me in Iraq and you'd still be there. I'm going back to Texas. But if you vote for Steve, it'd be just like I moved up there with y'all."

Certainly, this new concentrated anti-Bush push may garner the Liberals some support. Or, conversely, all Canadians may recognize the party as simply desperate -- just as Canadians recognized Paul Martin as desperate when he challenged Harper to talk about abortion in the tail end of the 2006 campaign.

(Unfortunately for Stephane Dion, his primary collaborator, Elizabeth May, also holds some conservative views on abortion, so he can't pull that particular card.)

If this is the best Hail Mary play Stephane Dion could pull out of the playbook, the Liberal party has just conceded defeat in this election.

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