Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On standards of disproof

In keeping with my own admonition, I won't spend too much time amplifying the messages the Cons want to send in attacking NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. But I do think it's worth pointing out how the main theme could prove to be self-defeating.

One of the points which worked well for the Cons in defining the last two permanent leaders of the opposition is that their criticisms were virtually impossible to disprove. Particularly for anybody who wasn't paying close attention to politics, "not a leader" and "only in it for himself" made for neat talking points which couldn't particularly be countered by personal experience - and the few people in a position to speak to the questions could easily be dismissed as partisan supporters.

But the "angry" label being applied to Mulcair is a rather different beast. It won't be the least bit difficult for even a casual observer to test the based on public appearances, particularly during the 2015 election campaign. And with Mulcair having consistently stayed both calm and positive during a lengthy and contentious leadership race, I wouldn't want to be the party betting on his offering much fodder to reinforce the frame.

In fact, the Cons' choice of attacks may ultimately end up helping Mulcair: by offering a falsifiable label, they've not only set a relatively low set of expectations which Mulcair can be expected to exceed, but also laid the groundwork for discussion (among the pundit class and among Canadians at large) about how their own talking points might prove wrong. And that knowledge should make it far easier for Mulcair to ride out the Cons' inevitable attempts to rile him up in a desperate attempt to make the label stick.

1 comment:

  1. Idealistic Pragmatist11:43 a.m.

    Another factor is the fact that the 'angry' meme is something that Harper himself has been tagged with--and has never been able to shake. Which makes it something the Liberals can probably successfully hit Mulcair over the head with, but I have my doubts about how well that will work for the Conservatives.