Some unsolicited – and likely not particularly welcome, considering the source – advice for PMO on making the best of being forced to deal with the necessary evil that is the press, from a once-big-now-small-C conservative Cassandra, which can pretty much be summed up as follows: ‘Don’t keep doing stupid things’:
[O]ne strategy for dealing with a hostile media is really, really simple– Stop giving reporters free ammunition.
In other words, the Conservatives should stop making it so easy for the media to cast the party in a bad light.
That means when the Prime Minister is taking part in an unfamiliar religious ritual, brief him beforehand on the proper protocol; that means when dealing with a controversial issue such as funding the Gay Pride Parade, have a consistent clear message; that means when you are to appear at a G-8 photo op, show up on time; that means doing simple things like checking your facts before attacking a political opponent.
It’s called “professionalism.”
Meanwhile, Canadian Press reporter Jennifer Ditchburn details the various staffing snafus that plagued the prime minister during his G8 jaunt, which turned what was supposed to be an easy-peasy smash hit summertime good newsweek for the government into a flying circus of self-inflicted microscandal-management misfires.
What’s especially remarkable, though, is that, in nearly every instance, the series of unfortunate events that overshadowed the PM’s appearance on the world stage could have been shut down cold on day one, had his office not managed to make matters worse:
Conservatives around Ottawa have been grumbling for months that Harper has surrounded himself with people who only feed into his most partisan tendencies and that could be dangerous.
Former chief of staff Ian Brodie and parliamentary expert Bruce Carson were said to be a moderating influence on Harper, but they have been gone for a year.
“Too many young partisan kids who, when they get tired, showcase some of their worst tendencies,” said one Conservative. “No mature steady hand in places where it is needed.”
What kind of advice and help Harper is getting came into play in two other recent incidents.
Harper accepted the communion host at a Roman Catholic funeral service held for former governor general Romeo LeBlanc, not putting it in his mouth immediately. Why the non-Catholic was put in the position of accepting the host in the first place is unclear.
And G8 leaders snickered as Harper was late again for a group photo at the end of the summit, something his aides wouldn’t explain.
Accidents happen, one Conservative strategist shrugged.
“The challenge for a prime minister or minister in a situation like this is that you’re basically flying blind because you don’t have time to read the media first hand, so you have to depend on your advisers.”
She also compares him to Wolverine, which, frankly, ITQ thinks he should take as a compliment, since he’s definitely one of the cooler denizens of the Marvelverse — and he’s even Canadian! Really, the best that Michael Ignatieff can hope for, as far as comics comparisons go, would be one of those bemused, seemingly benign professorial types who secretly spend their nights working on ludicrously overcomplicated plots to hold the world soybeans supply hostage in exchange for a truckload of bullion. Or a blue ribbon panel — that would do nicely.