Stephane Dion and Gotcha Politics

By Royce Koop on Oct 10, 2008

My first thought after watching the clip is that it's hardly as bad as many are making it out to be. He's obviously tired and there's something about the question that is throwing him off. And he doesn't exactly come across as petulent or annoyed - I've seen much worse from Dion, especially in interviews from the 1990s. He actually comes off as somewhat likeable near the end of this video.

If CTV had told Dion that they wouldn't air the tape, then they should provide some rationalization for their actions beyond the disingenuous boilerplate "we owe it to Canadians" blah blah blah. Presumably when a politician asks if they can start over, they do so under the assumption that the media won't air the entire session. Jared Wesley is right: This is gotcha politics at its worst.

And there's something very McCain-esque in Harper's response. Obviously he felt that by giving the issue a mention, he could bolster its prominence. But that attitude betrays a lack of understanding of "new media" like Utube, despite that the prime minister is apparently surrounded by young hipsters. Harper could have said nothing, this video would still have gone viral and everyone would still have been watching it on their office computers the next day. All that Harper has done is opened himself up to Liberal counter-attacks.

That's not to say that Harper deserves condemnation for mentioning the video or that Dion deserves a free pass. The media have let Dion and Layton get away with the broadest generalities on the economy even as they have attacked Harper for not having a plan. Is it too much to expect a prospective prime minister to be able to coherently state what he would have done differently from Harper?


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Watch the Entire Interview

I would encourage everyone to watch the entire interview, especially at the 2:50 mark of the following video:

Royce is right: Dion does come off a lot better if people take the time to watch the entire segment.   Sadly, I have little faith that anyone will take the time to (1) find or (2) watch the whole thing.  They'll watch what the mainstream media has provided: the first minute.

Why the outrage?

There have been plenty of gaffes made by all the political parties in this campaign and the media has played "gotcha" politics with nearly every incident.

What is this gaffe any different?

Lets face it - Dion messed up big time, big time. Lets not play the blame game and make excuses for him. He's running to be the next Prime Minister, he can handle the scrutiny without everyone patting him on the back and soothing his hurt feelings.

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