Thursday, September 11, 2008

On disarray

I naturally don't agree with all of Steve's analysis in his post this morning. But it leads at least tangentially to one significant point worth highlighting about the election campaign so far: the Libs have managed to be disorganized and uninspiring enough to see their support collapse even without the type of gaffe or scandal that's tended to shift momentum in past campaigns.

Contrary to Steve's message, though, the Libs' problems aren't merely a product of the media. So far in the campaign, while every other party has rolled out a message which fits into the election narrative which it wants to build, the Libs have been pitching little more than a grab bag of unrelated policies with no evidence of a broader theme or vision (other than maybe "Harper bad", which fits equally well into the NDP's wider message).

Mind you, anybody would think twice about trying to tell that story if the Libs were showing any signs of having thought out their campaign and inspired their supporters. But it makes for an irresistibly convenient narrative when the Libs' scattershot approach to policy and amateurish messaging is combined with anything along the lines of the logistical issues or limited crowd support which the Libs have faced.

What's more, matters only figure to get worse for the Libs. After all, when Dion and his entourage haven't been able to plan out an effective campaign over the course of the past two years, there's no reason to think they'll suddenly be able to throw one together over the next month. And that means that when the Libs eventually run into some more traditional gaffes - as any party is bound to do at some point, particularly with a rookie leader - they'll be singularly ill-equipped to minimize the damage or shift the focus elsewhere.

Of course, plenty can happen during the course of a campaign to change its initial course. But once again, the Libs have shown that they're staking their chances on little more than the bare hope that matters beyond their control will break their way - and one can hardly fault the media for seeing that as a more significant story than the occasional glitch elsewhere.

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