Monday, July 13, 2009

Conservative strategist Tom Flanagan Defends Tory attack ads

Former Conservative war room strategist and Stephen Harper advisor Tom Flanagan defends the use of Conservative attack ads in today's Globe and Mail.

This American professor of political science at the University of Calgary sees attack ads as an integral part of campaigning. In fact he laments Republican presidential nominee John McCain's refusal to play up Barack Obama's association with Jeremiah Wright.

This is power politics at its best and worst my friends, predicated on the belief that the electorate is populated mostly by ignorant rubes who thirst for this kind of childish combativeness. "We're good...and they're a bunch of elitists..they're soft on pedophiles...their spending will ruin the economy".

We've seen it all before.

Flanagan pops onto the scene at a very interesting time. The Tories have had a really rough stretch lately: Wafergate, the funding of Toronto's Gay Pride festivities, being late for G8 photos, attacking Michael Ignatieff for things he never said.

All the gaffes and missteps are forcing Stephen Harper and the Conservatives into very unfamiliar territory, that of playing defence.

Why wasn't the Prime Minister properly briefed on the Roman Catholic sacrament of communion? Why was Diane Ablonczy hung out to dry over the funding of Toronto's Gay Pride events? Why didn't Mr. Harper or his aides check their facts first, before embarrassing Canadians in front of the entire planet by blasting the opposition leader about things he never said?

The opposition parties don't need to run attack ads right now, the Conservatives are doing it to themselves.

Into this meltdown steps Mr. Flanagan in an attempt to get the heat off of the Prime Minister, and onto the opposition. He wants the media focusing on the Tory attacks, and the opposition's responses. He wants Ignatieff and company playing defence instead of Stephen Harper....because frankly, Harper defends like a goalie who's been hit in the head by too many pucks.

Flanagan's little op-ed piece does demonstrate one very obvious reality though. Canadians should know that the governing Conservatives are in full election mode, even though there isn't an actual election going on.

And that's truly a shame, if Stephen Harper and his advisers devoted as much effort to restoring Canada's economy as they do to smearing the opposition, we'd all be millionaires.

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