SHIFTING WINDS The Pol
itical Leader’s TV Debate Rules of Engagement
Hmmm, does anyone really win when political leaders go toe to toe on television? Earlier this week I tuned into the provincial leaders TV debate. I do this in the lead-up to every election campaign, albeit reluctantly, in the interest of making an informed choice on Election Day
. Sadly, as I’ve said before, it is really about deciding which of the leaders I
I’ll be honest. I could only endure an hour
of the debate before pulling the plug. Calling it a
is a disservice to the word. More accurate descriptions come to mind
sandbox squabble, catfight and legalized slander, to name just a few. The first ten minutes were predictably all about how many knives Hudak and Horvath could
plunge in Kathleen Wynn’s back over the gas plant debacle. Frankly, I’m sick
and tired of hearing them that beat that dr
um. It’s old news. Let’s move on.
And please, don’t expect me to believe that a Cons
ervative or NDP government would not have its own share of scandals. Politics and scandals go together like beer and pizza. An aside: Can someone explain to me why
handlers told her not to look at her opponents when responding to the scandal questions? Her expression seemed to say:
I pretend that they’re not there, they’
ll spontaneously burst into flames.
On a lighter note, I do find some amusement in the tactics that get employed in these debates.
I’m sure that there is a
r’s TV Debate
Rules of Engagement Manual
with hard and fast rules such as: Always thank the interviewer or constituent for their question and maintain that the issue is exactly what you wanted to talk about and exactly what your platform is built around. Never ever answer a negative question directly. Deflect, deflect, deflect like your political life depends on it. Counter attack at every opportunity. If you get your teeth into your opponent on an issue where they are vulnerable, hang on like a rabid pit bull.
If you’re the leader of the ruling party, blame everything bad on the party in power before you.
Imply that you inherited a tsunami disaster that you are still cleaning up.
If you’re the lea
der of the official opposition, be smug, self-righteous and indignant with just a dash of homespun humility at opportune moments.
If you’re the leader of the
minority party, divide and conquer. Periodically, appear to side with each of your opponents until they lower their guard momentarily. Then go for the jugular. Be a pulpit pounder for your own platform. Not matter what the question, all answers must spin on the head of a rhetorical pin and lead directly back to your core promises.