Friday, September 14, 2007

Dion's CBC Interview: Thoughts

Dion was on the CBC tonight. The more I see of him the more I fear the prospect of a Harper majority. His English has improved, but not nearly enough. His choice of idioms is still not good, his accent is still thick, and the language barrier greatly impairs his ability to articulate his thoughts. His vocabulary, for example, is not what one would expect from someone holding a PHD.

Dion, as Andrew Coyne rightly said, in the At Issue panel that followed, has an aura of authenticity about him and he comes off as a pleasant individual. That said, the Liberals are not going to win a campaign on the strength of Dion’s personality. He is not a good retail politician. He is not Bob Rae. He looked lost trying to come up with a pleasing job interview type reason for why his personal popularity numbers are so pathetically low, especially in Quebec. He fumbled the first part of answer before recovering to say that this is problem shared by many new opposition leaders. I thought the question unfair, by the way. Besides, it was going to yield an insightful response.

His answer to Mansbridge’s question about why he had not been to Afghanistan yet was worse. It was quite simply feeble. Dion answer in a nut shell was that he has been busy. I was hopping that he would undercut Mansbridge’s dubious assumption that only those having gone to Afghanistan are fully qualified to pass judgment on the issue. Dion should have shot back that spending tens of thousands of dollars to stage a photo op in Afghanistan hardly qualifies as field research. Such staged visits certainly have not helped Rumsfeld, Bush or Cheney understand the Iraq War any better. The same goes Harper and Afghanistan.

Mansbridge later raised the issue of whether Dion has been over managed and mentioned Dion has complained as much. The panelists agreed and delighted in Mansbridge’s Paul Martin analogy. Mansbridge said that towards the end of his term as PM Paul Martin frequently looked as if the was not quite there and that the answers he gave seemed to be not his own but taken from a script. The bit about Martin was funny and I certainly agree, but Al Gore is far better example. The scripted focused group Gore was insultingly inauthentic. Al Gore is much more likeable when he is playing himself. It is height of irony that such a horrible actor should reach personal popularity heights by being featured in a movie. I am not sure Dion is the second coming of Gore, but he is a hell of lot more compelling personality bare knuckle fighting with separatists then he is pretending to be just a guy you would hopefully want to have a beer with and shoot the shit.

There was no major disagreements about where Dion is and where he should go amongst the panelists. All came to same conclusions. The Liberals are not ready for an election and it was foolish of Dion to suggest that he would bring the government down over the Throne Speech. Dion has come up with clear policies if the Liberals are to have any chance. Opposing everything the Conservatives do, whether it be supporting ridiculous stupid equalization formulas such as the Atlantic Accord, or expressing their desire to revisit the income trust thing, is getting the Liberals nowhere.


Anonymous said...

"Handlers" are a pain in everybody's ass. Dion doesn't need them and should try flying solo; it can't get worse.

Anonymous said...

Dion's in a catch-22 of sorts.

When he relies on his handlers, he comes off scripted and not himself.

But when he does not rely on his handlers he is completely incomprehensible and directionless on all issues of importance to Canadians except environmentalism. And his incomprehensibleness starts in French where he speaks down to Canadians in professor-speak, which is made only worse in English because of his horrible grammer and atrocious vocabulary.

When Dion started to plummet in the polls last winter, he finally started to listen to the good advice he was getting around him instead of ignoring it - like improving his English, getting some media training, branching out to other policies than the environment, etc.

Anonymous said...

I have given Peter a few harsh words this am for that rude is refreshing to have a guy of substance in the running..he does not have a lie on the tip of his tongue for a he will be eaten up by the far as the question peter put to him about not going over there...he should have answered 'there is enough here in Canada for me to handle right now' instead he looked like a little boy who peed his pants. P.S. I wonder whats happened to Peters'HOT'weathergirl who he gurgles to at the end of the newscast.signed gramps

Oldschool said...

Dion is probably a nice man . . . like John Turner . . . he is just in the wrong job!!!!!

Koby said...

Dion can not afford another interview like that. At some point he has drop the talking points, which are not compelling to begin with, and respond to questions at hand. At times Dion looked like he had been lobotomized. People dismiss questions, and make jokes. Look at Trudeau. If Mansbridge had poised the Afghanistan question to Trudeau, Trudeau would have hit that beach ball half way to Mars.

As for Mansbridge conduct, sure I did not always appreciate his line of questioning, but he was professional as always and he was right to hammer Dion for trying to dodge several questions. Dion first attempted to mention how well people liked him on the BBQ circuit as some kind of response Mansbridge question about his poor polling results. It was laughably stupid response and Mansbridge was right to hammer him for it by asking the question again.

Anonymous said...

what the hell are you talkin about, remember Chretiens english, its not dions english thas the problem, its dion himself...martin should of stayed at least give himself 10 months, people would of seen the crap party at its worse, and we would not be in this posotion, remember 1979, somebody explain to me why dion was picked in the first place, im a trudeau liberal, and i would no vote any other party, but wont vote for dion, dont want to be part of this fiasco...does that tell you something.

Koby said...

There is a world of difference between Chr├ętien and Dion. Dion lives and dies by his intellect. Not being able to communicate his ideas clearly in English is a serious handicap. By contrast, Chr├ętien’s pigeon English was in keeping with "The little guy from Shawinigan” image. Besides from what I understand his French was not great either and he never had any too profound to say. Remember this: “A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it's because it's proven.”

As for Martin, I think he was even more politically incompetent than Dion. His decision to call the Gomery Inquiry will go down as perhaps the biggest political blunder in Canadian history.

The Party has lost its sense of who it is since Trudeau left as leader. It needs to recapture a sense of purpose.

Anonymous said...

As for Martin, I think he was even more politically incompetent than Dion. His decision to call the Gomery Inquiry will go down as perhaps the biggest political blunder in Canadian history.