The new Liberal radio ads have the twin virtues of activism and self-honesty: they are a rare case of the Liberal party of Canada doing something instead of simply waiting for everyone to forget why they ever got out of the habit of voting Liberal, and they are also a rare case of Liberals saying coherently, in public, what they say to one another in private. I’ve never understood the taboo against negative ads if political players have negative sentiments. If you think Stephen Harper is bad for the country, but refrain from saying so, that’s not virtue; it’s two-facedness or cowardice or an odd eagerness to fight with one hand behind your back.
As a kind of bonus for the Liberals, their ads spurred the Conservatives into fits of apoplexy in record time. A government that responds to any criticism by hiding behind soldiers (a sort of modified Greg Stillson move) is hard to take seriously.
So, a decent Sunday at the office for the Grits. Still, one wee quibble: where is it written that all Liberal ads, on any topic, must be utterly humourless? Surely one way to respond to the spectacle of a guy who now shuts down Parliament annually is to say, hey, that guy’s ridiculous. Instead we get more armies-in-the-streets glowering. I think this attitude, which is generalized among Liberals — remember when some of them used to be happy warriors? — has something to do with Michael Ignatieff’s quite spectacular tanking on a bunch of human-affect questions in the latest Angus poll.
I know, I know, the Death of Parliament is serious business, if you think it is. But I still think Harper is quite happy with being portrayed as terrifying. What he really fears is being portrayed as not very good at what he does. These ads don’t hit that target.