Sunday, December 03, 2006
Did Dion just make his first rookie mistake?
I think Dion is making a tactical and symbolic mistake by emphasizing his desire to be ready for a quick election. It sends a wrong signal to Canadians about what your priorities are. More importantly, it takes away a line of attack if and when Harper decides to have an election. How can you oppose an election you might not want if you have already told Canadians you're very eager to be ready for one?
If Harper is smart, and he usually is about these things, he'll soon make sure to remind people that Dion is on the record as being eager to fight a quick election.
It's these kinds of things that can make or break a rookie leader. I know Dion is trying to reassure Liberals that he's prepared to do his job as leader of the party. However, he's no longer running to be leader. He's got bigger fish to fry and, right now, he's using up his reserve fuel to keep the skillet warm.
It's reminiscent of Stockwell Day's challenge to Chretien about having an election. Chretien took up that challenge, and we know the rest of the story.
UPDATE (5:52 pm): This is where political communication skills become an asset. Instead of emphasizing a desire to be ready for a quick election, Dion should be downplaying the timing of any election call while simultaneously stressing the party's ongoing efforts to be ready for any campaign, whenever it happens. It's the way a diplomat would approach it. It's also the way an effective political leader would approach it as well.
Dion is taking the responsibility of an election call away from Harper and placing it squarely on his own shoulders. He's not going up against a b-list of fellow Liberals any longer. He's in the big leagues now. Hitting is allowed.