Thursday, October 11, 2007

In politics, being candid is a death sentence

John Tory must not have read Warren Kinsella's "Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics".

Tip #1 in the book by the Prince of Darkness is - The Press is the enemy. He quotes U.S. television host and former political staffer Chris Matthews from his best-selling book Hardball:
"...Failure, misery, disaster - that's what makes the bells go off in a journalist's nervous system: the kind of story where somebody gets hurt".

Kinsella's advice: "Don't be the one who gets hurt."

I think part of the reason for last night's massacre lies in character of John Tory - open, honest, forthright, accessible, compassionate, principled, reliable, responsible and candid.

He also loves to talk, which is great if you're the executive of a large corporation.

Not so good if you're a politician on the wrong end of a media feeding-frenzy.

Admittedly, Tory threw out the chum himself when he proposed his faith-based funding policy and didn't take an immediate cue that this was not going to be popular. He stood by his principles right to the end; wavering only to admit that a free vote was a more democratic way of handling it.

But McGuinty's handlers knew what to do - Keep your guy on message, and away from any potential disaster in terms of a media "Gotcha" moment; either with reporters or the public. So all we saw of Dalton McGuinty was carefully crafted scripts and tightly controlled media sessions where he kept hammering away on the importance of safeguarding 'public education' and 'public health'.

Oh, his goons did accidentally allow one little gaffe, but somehow it got overlooked in the Tory carnage. For the most part, they were in control - no matter what it took to accomplish that goal.

For the most part McGuinty was safely tucked away in classroom settings, challenged only by the tough questions of fourth-graders. No one was permitted to embarrass him with his record of broken promises.

There are other little subtle tricks like suggesting lines of questioning to reporters just before your opponent's media scrum. Getting unions onside isn't a bad idea either.

Global's Sean Mallen provides some insight on the former:

But back to the McGuinty bus. His media team is full of former TV reporters, one of whom is regularly calling me and other Global reporters on the tour to gently inquire into the subjects of our stories and suggest an alternative, more Liberal-friendly interpretation. Another former reporter, now part of the Liberal spin machine, has been sending me emails advising of a potential “gotcha” question for NDP Leader Howard Hampton.
It is all part of the game in the campaigning of the 21st Century and all parties are doing it. Our blackberries hum all day with party news releases parsing and critiquing every word uttered by the other guy. But the Liberals seem to have the largest and most aggressive media management strategy. It is a rare John Tory event that is not prefaced by an email to our blackberries from the Liberal War Room, suggesting a line of questioning.

Brilliant strategy - And straight from Kinsella's book.


By contrast, John Tory seems to be too open and honest for politics.

Or perhaps just too naive.


* * * *

Update
- Various noteworthy MSM editorials and blog reactions:

From the Prince of Darkness himself - How we won.

Andrew Coyne - Eek! An inept Tory leader! (Post)

Ivison - This McGuinty victory not like the last one. (Post)

Mary Vallis - Tour of Duty. (Post)

Lorrie Goldstein
- Multiculturalism has a down side. (Sun)

Greg Weston - One for the books. (Sun)

Luisa D'Amato - Witmer should be the next Tory MP (Record)

Stephen Taylor - Thoughts about the Ontario Election.

Blue Sky - Ah, Back to Normal Life. This one is really worth the time to read, but I find it difficult with the small font and dark background. Anyway, this is very perceptive:

You don’t win elections by doing the right thing, you win them by doing the popular thing (or by not doing the unpopular thing).

Wudrick Blog: The Crucifixion of John Tory.

Re: MMP - PomoChristian - The Silver Lining.

Daimnation! - Warren the K reveals his secrets.

43 comments:

Steph said...

It is truly sad how the Ontarian population is so easily controlled by the Liberal spin doctors and their lackies in the MSM.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Steph, yeah. John Tory just didn't understand that the end justifies the means.

Ruth said...

Sad to think that you win by lying and scaring people into thinking that Health Care will be privatized and they will have to pay.

Christian Conservative said...

Funny... I tried to warn them of what was coming back at the beginning of the campaign.

"Look out... Warren is back

Though I'm veiwing it from the opposing teams bleachers, I must say that I'm a little awestruck watching "The Prince of Darkness" back in action again, doing what he does best... fighting election campaigns.

I REALLY hope John Tory and the campaign brain-trust are ready take on this guy... because don't forget, they've done battle before, and it didn't work out so well for John Tory the last time he faced Warren in the trenches. John Tory was one of the campaign managers for the Federal Progressive Conservative Party in the 1993 election, while Warren was in the newly founded Liberal "War Room"... and we all know how that bout ended.

Having just re-read Warren's "Kicking A** in Canadian Politics" this summer, what we've seen thus far is classic Warren... throw the first punch, kick "butt", and take no prisoners.

After all... no matter how much you may not like it, politics is in fact a blood-sport, and it's winner take all."


This campaign was a textbook case of Warren's theories, and they all got played right on cue.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Ruth, I think those who have allowed themselves to be so easily scared must accept some of the responsibility.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

This campaign was a textbook case of Warren's theories, and they all got played right on cue.

Exactly. I borrowed the book from the library so as not to contribute nay more to Kinsella's coffers.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Meant to say "any more".

Ruth said...

But the things Warren said on his blog about Randy Hillier and John Tory were insulting to say the least. I always wonder how far they can go before it can be classed as libel and slander.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

But the things Warren said on his blog about Randy Hillier and John Tory were insulting to say the least.

Yes, rather surprising after cookie-gate.

Anonymous said...

Now you're excuses and constant attacks are out there again.

Face it, John Tory isn't meant to be a provincial or federal leader. He hasn't got what it takes. He has bad judgment.

I'm a Liberal (don't shoot me or anything) but I think John Tory's place should have been mayor of Toronto. Yes, I said it - I actually said a conservative should be in a leadership position.

When Toronto voted for the dud David Miller I choked. NDP can't run things financially.

I think John Tory would have made an excellent mayor. (sorry Liberals but I call them as I see them).

I wonder - would John Tory try to run as mayor again. If he did I think he'd have a good shot at it.

Spin doctors? Ah, look at Harper's bunch - spin rapidly 24/7 - so don't attack spin doctors of other parties when the Conservatives are the masters of spin.

tori said...

that's right anon! Ontarians prefer that their leaders steal their tax dollars and distribute them to their friends, leaders who tell them what they want to hear, regardless if it is true, leaders who are morally bankrupt...

but someone who wants to do better for them? bah, we're so used to being abused, we just take it as it comes.

I can't wait to scream "I told you so!" when the second hardest decision mcguinty makes hits the electorate. It will be ahollow victory, in that Ontario WILL be worse off 4 years from now. But hey!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I can't wait to scream "I told you so!" when the second hardest decision mcguinty makes hits the electorate.

Yep. And no more blaming Mike Harris. This is not "Ontario's New Government" anymore!!!

If Harper can't use that phrase after 18 months, then McGuinty can't point fingers after 4 years.




Meanwhile, the PC party needs to have huddle and decide if it is a party of Red Tories, or is it time to start listening to the base?

tori said...

and jo,

if anything the silver lining is that harper may just get his majority.

the only thing that may hurt him would be the IT flip flop, but as Ontarians have clearly told everyone, they don't care that a politician lies. Ask and you shall receive.

If I hear "but harper lied..." I will simply say "so what?". Sadly, I know it is a different kettle of fish if a liberal lies than when a conservative does.

And now I'm off to take my frustrations out on my bike and have a good, hard, long workout.

Crabgräss said...

It appears that the Liberal brand is alive and well in Ontario. Does everyone remember (May 2006) Harper introducing John Tory as "the next Premier of Ontario"? Oooops.

Steph, if a person votes for Party X, does that mean they are being controlled by the Party X? Who controls you?

Tori, who in God's name are you talking about?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

And now I'm off to take my frustrations out on my bike and have a good, hard, long workout.

Good for you, Tori. It might be a punching bag for me.

Anna Keightley said...

Beg to differ. John Tory has exactly what it takes to run this province. He must stay on and "fight the good fight." Hard right Conservatives have only themselves to blame, for "dumping" literally on his education proposal for years down the road, and only with voter approval.

Because he was centre-right, voters dismissed him. Now we have to fight the increased taxation that will plague us under the Liberals. It could have been different today. A few thousand votes more in each riding, but good people stayed away and rejected, based on a mere proposal. Not too bright, we shot ourselves in the foot. Now we'll have to stay on the mend, meantime the Liberals will take us down the tubes. But NOT if we don't allow them to do so.

Continue to support John Tory. His present defeat will turn into a future victory. For all of us. Principled Liberal supporters included.

MadMacs of Bytown said...

Fibber McG has just announced a holiday on the 3rd week-end in February to be called "Family Day". Is this the same family he was recently urging to flick off??

OMMAG said...

Without going into a long list of I Told You So's..... let me offer my condolences.
Next time instead of sitting back and passively observing and commenting ... join your local riding association and get some SAY in what happens.

Time now to houseclean the Ontario PC's of the dummy's who ran this campaign and promoted the weakling John Tory as leader.

And ... Try to enjoy the party in your Happy Socialist Paradise

Ti-Guy said...

*tsk*...Now I feel really bad having voted for Kathleen Wynne and contributing directly to the defeat of John Tory (who I do think is a decent guy). I didn't know you all would be so dejected, despondent, depressed and, gosh, almost suicidal.

Forgiveness, please.

...*snort*

Anonymous said...

Greg Weston offers us the best glimpse into the undoing of John Tory. Read it thoroughly and you'll understand that even among his small caucus how to roll-out the idea was challenged, if at all.

In order to sell a province and community to school choice, we need people who are prepared, knowledgeable on this issue and trained to de-bunk the myths that will be spun by oppositions and teacher unions....not to have prepared Tory for this reality proved hurtful.

To say nothing of the 300 teachers who set up camp in Don Valley West to campaign for the ed. minister.

Kinsella did the job he was paid to do. Tory's team fell flat.

First order of Tory business, use no more of those folks in future campaigns!

Felix Taylor, Jr. said...

Hi Joanne,

I am glad the election's over but still sad about the results. The provincial conservatives are going to do some pretty lengthy soul searching. On my blog, I lay it hard on voters and trust me I am not finished. Tonight I hope to give another rant. I still believe that Ontario voters rejected a man who could have been one of the greatest Premiers of Ontario in the 21st century. Nothing's going to change that belief.

Joanne (True Blue) said...


To say nothing of the 300 teachers who set up camp in Don Valley West to campaign for the ed. minister.


And of course those teachers were able to book time off courtesy of the union, to do 'union work'...

First order of Tory business, use no more of those folks in future campaigns!

For sure. If they keep the same crew on next time, they deserve to lose again.

Snerd Gronk said...

Jo-Jo: I think those who have allowed themselves to be so easily scared must accept some of the responsibility.

SG: Well what da yuh know, we agree on sumthin'

Snerd

Joanne (True Blue) said...

SG - O.K. I don't hate you anymore.

Swift said...

I think the voters of Ontario sent the politicians three strong messages yesterday.

The first one is about the separation of church and state. The history of the world is packed with examples of the evils that flow from the union of intolerant, fanatical, religious extremists with the government of a country. This danger is not limited to one religion. Nor is it limited to people of other faiths, as they are just as intolerant and fanatical towards those of their own faith who disagree with their narrow world view. The separation of church and state is one of the most important ideas that our culture has developed. Yes we still have the separate school board because of a historical compromise at confederation, but that does not mean we should go backwards and start undoing the progress we have made in separating the state from the church.

The second message is to the Conservatives. The disaster yesterday was not only because of the faith based schools. It was also because of the platform. The absolutely dismal showing of the tory candidates in so many ridings should shout loud and clear to the Conservatives that Ontario voters are not going to elect a Liberal government that has blue campaign signs. Joanne called John Tory honest. But is it honest to call yourself a Conservative and run on a Liberal platform? This dichotomy between platform and party sends a subliminal message to the voters that you can not trust this party and leader. The subconscious impression of dishonesty this leaves the voters is just as effective, if not more so, as the Liberal record of broken promises in turning voters away. Most of the winning Conservatives did so on personal popularity in their own riding not the campaign or the leader.

This brings me to the third message. Ontario voters have resoundingly voted to keep their option of voting for the candidate, not the party. Most people involved with a party underestimate the importance of the local candidate and the local campaign. The Ontario voters showed how wrong they are, both in the MMP referendum and the general vote.

Wayward son said...

Voter turn out was down by 100,000 and the Liberal vote was down by 230,000. Right there is a third of a million votes that should have been Tory's to grab. But he didn't, instead he lost about 170,000 votes. Looks to me like it is time to stop blaming the population of Ontario and time to start blaming your own party.

(My party by the way gained almost 250,000 votes, but is still seatless, although they are coming)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Really interesting analysis, Swift.

I'm not sure if I would call a Red Tory PC leader 'dishonest', but I agree there has been a lot of grumbling amongst the rank and file over a leader who could very well be a Liberal. I said it myself before the campaign began - Liberal lite.

That's why the efforts of the Liberals to link Tory to Harris were ludicrous.

On another note, what does everyone thing about Dalton decreeing the extra holiday in February as his first official act of this four years? Wasn't this the guy that needed every penny of that health tax? And continues to go begging to Ottawa at every opportunity?

How are small businesses going to react to that?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

(My party by the way gained almost 250,000 votes, but is still seatless, although they are coming)

Green party. Right. That was a close one with the Jolley Green candidate.

bluetech said...

We had a close one in the Nipissing (North Bay) area.

I'm one of the first to bash the media manipulation, but I have to commend CBC out of Sudbury. A few times over the last few weeks they have been disecting whatever Rick Bartalucci had to say: He had a press conference in a new subdivision of $400,000 homes, CBC announced that food bank use in Sudbury had increased. He bragged about infrastructure funding, they reported on the bad roads.It was old fasioned journalism.

I have nothing else to add to this discussion except:
BRING BACK MIKE HARRIS!!!

Brian in Calgary said...

Sigh! My condolences, Joanne, but I think it'll be a pyhric(sp?) victory for the Liberals. Meanwhile the forces of political correctness may have won this one, but I think they'll lose next month in Saskatchewan.

Torian said...

swift,

further to you point, I think Tory was screwed either way.

He tried to get away from Harris so that arguements of "Just like Mike" could not stick. But in doing so, lost his core.

If he had embraced Harris fully, the libs would have easily kept hitting hard with the Harris analogies.

of course now, mcidiot has no more excuses. It will be fun to sit back and watch him try to blame harris for any "blip" that may induce another tax increase. Of course, it would be more fun if it didn't hit me directly in the pocketbook...

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Brian, I had to look that one up. I knew what it meant, but not sure of the spelling:

A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with devastating cost to the victor

Yes, this could be the time that McGuinty has to step out of the bubble and face the real world. Ontario's economy is starting to tank; at least in the manufacturing area.

Lots of contracts with teachers, doctors, nurses etc. coming up for renewal.

Where will that money come from? The unions must be appeased.


Tori said, of course now, mcidiot has no more excuses. It will be fun to sit back and watch him try to blame harris for any "blip" that may induce another tax increase. Of course, it would be more fun if it didn't hit me directly in the pocketbook...

Dalton has been asked several times since he won to repeat the 'no tax hike' promise. He can't choke it out anymore. He just grins.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

We had a close one in the Nipissing (North Bay) area.

Bluetech, we have some relatives from up there. The Liberals got in right? But it was close. Very close.

Yeah. We need another Harris. A gentler, kinder Harris, but one that has a vision and some backbone.

Anonymous said...

Can you spell E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N
P-R-E-M-I-U-M ??

The rumour is that McGuinty will be gone in less than 18 months to run for the Federal Liberal leadership.

Can you picture it?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Can you spell E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N
P-R-E-M-I-U-M ??


Ha! Now there's an angle I hadn't thought of!

The rumour is that McGuinty will be gone in less than 18 months to run for the Federal Liberal leadership.

I heard that too. Someday sent me something from Bourque about that possibility. How very unfortunate for the ROC.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

OMMAG - There you go! McGuinty will be your problem too!!!!!

Muwaa-haa-haa...

Swift said...

Torian, the Harris legacy is a problem, but not insurmountable. After an all candidates debate in the last federal election, I was talking to a retired teacher. Mike Harris ranks far below the devil in popularity with many teachers. He was complaining about the education cuts by the Harris government. I said the cuts in funding were not the problem, it was that the cuts were not made only in the administration area. There are far too many administrators and inspectors in the system. He thought for a moment and then he had to reluctantly agree. The Harris government should have capped each type non classroom expenditures at a certain percentage of the school budget. There still would have been yelling and screaming from certain quarters, but this would have blown over much quicker and would be forgotten by just about everybody by now.

Joanne, if you don't like the term dishonest for a right wing politician that has a left wing platform, would hypocritical be better. Doesn't this situation make the term "hidden agenda" more believable. Wouldn't most, if not all the terms you used to describe John Tory also describe Mike Harris? OK, OK, you wouldn't use the phrase "red Tory" to describe Mike Harris.

Torian said...

swift- don't get me wrong...I loved Mike Harris, and he had the dual task of re-building after a recession and Bob Rae AND he had to deal with the fact that the feds stopped transfer pmnts to the provinces for education and health. Of course, the liberals never mention that it was this -in part-that lead to the fed's massive surplusses (plus the mulroney GST), but I digress...

Harris was great because he said what he was going to do and did it. And it needed to be done. Who at home spends money they don't have?? Well, ok, we all do, but we pay for it in spades. But for the most part, people understand that they can not live outside their means.

Möbius said...

Meanwhile, the PC party needs to have huddle and decide if it is a party of Red Tories, or is it time to start listening to the base?

I didn't even stay home last night to watch the returns. Instead, I went out and had a nice dinner.

You know my criticisms of Tory, so I won't rehash. He needs to submit to a leadership review (a real one, not the usual coronation), and it may be time for him to resign. He's a decent person, but has the political instincts of Paul Martin.

A new leader should at least move the party somewhat to the right. Eves did worse than Harris, and Tory worse than Eves. What's the message there?

Möbius said...

Hard right Conservatives have only themselves to blame, for "dumping" literally on his education proposal for years down the road, and only with voter approval.

If it were just hard righties, it would have made little difference. Tory lost the entire centre-right to right base with that little proposal.

How often did we hear about slush funds during the campaign? Health care taxation? Health care? The economy? What was the Number 1 subject?

Ummm...how about funding about 50K kids in religious schools.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Oh, the humility...

OMMAG said...

"OMMAG - There you go! McGuinty will be your problem too!!!!!"

Sure that's the spirit .... spread the joy!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Sure that's the spirit .... spread the joy!

Ah yes, why keep such a treasure to ourselves?