When reporters start filing stories with ledes like, “The latest blunder in the gaffe-prone Harper campaign,” I think we can say the magnificent Tory election machine is missing a few bolts.
This is serious, serious stuff. Ordinarily I don’t think much of gaffe-watch stories: it says nothing at all about a candidate’s fitness for high office that his campaign bus gets lost, or he drops a football.
But mau-mauing grieving fathers isn’t just a slip of the tongue: it betrays an attitude. Indeed, it lends some heft to the otherwise unspeakably silly puffin-poop business. And it’s of a piece with the other Tory missteps: the attempt to bar Elizabeth May from the debates, the war-room overkill etc.
What’s common to all is an approach to politics: sneering, ad hominem, bullying, and, above all, directionless. Even as they dismantle the last remaining policy differences with their opponents, the Tories amp up the vicious partisanship. It’s almost like the one is replacing the other.
As, in fact, it is.
FREUDENDATE: Unintentionally revealing quote of the week, from the same story:
“I want to make it very clear that I have set a tone and I have set an expectation for this campaign and as leader, I am going to make sure that that is followed all the way to victory,” Harper said.
Yes, Prime Minister. Yes you have.
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