I think we need to be clear: there was NO sex and NO rock'n'roll at the leaders' shindig last evening.
Sadly so. Those elements would have jazzed up two hours that I found to be stultifyingly bland and boring, in contrast to yesterday's debate which was lively, engaging and dynamic - well, relatively speaking.
Stephen Harper sleepwalked through the event, delivering rote answers to all questions, challenges or criticism in a slow, measured monotone voice. The occasional 'emotional' punctuation to his own pronouncement or to the words of his opponents was a crocodile grin.
All he had to do was show up and not let Mr Furious Berserker escape because Con handlers know those displays do not endear him to viewers. It would seems Harper's lust for a majority government has forced him to concede that point because his sharp edges were blunted. Perhaps he was pulling his punches. Don Martin noticed:
Mr. Harper had obviously spotted danger in a recovering Mr. Dion and went for the jugular within seconds of the debate's opening, no longer the restrained above-the-fray French debate participant mocked in some pundit reviews on Thursday as a valium-drugged. He denounced Mr. Dion as an election rival "panicked" by his trembling poll numbers into a knee-jerk economic policy.
That was the only flash of his characteristic bellicosity and it came off as a rehearsed and tame jab.
Dion took the blow, but it opened the floor to counter attack. Elizabeth May in particular, directed a number of zingers at Harper. He responded with dull rejoinders, many of which were unsubstantiated claims. For example, May offered up the well-documented fact that many young offenders are illiterate and raised the issue that one of the first deep slashes Harper's Conservatives made when they came to power was to youth employment investments ($55.4 million) and adult literacy program ($17.7 million). Harper's flat answer was that the literacy programs did not teach people to read. That must have been a great surprise to the thousands of individuals helped by those programs.
The highlight of the debate may have been May's shot about the Conservatives' absent, non-existent, vacuum of an economic platform (Remember, it was Harper who requested the first hour of the debate be dedicated to the economy) and Jack Layton's quip about whether it was hiding under the PM's blue sweater.
When Harper blankly rattled off a list of environmental 'accomplishments' produced by the Conservatives, including a non sequitur reference to the whales (Are they one of their target demographics? Whales vote Conservative? Whale-lovers vote Conservative? Don't tell Charles McVety.), May conceded good work regarding the national parks was done, paused, then added that all the rest was fraudulous.
Some pundits declared Harper the 'winner' of last evenings debate.... because he didn't unleash his well-documented pugnacious and corrosive fury upon his opponents?Watching the debate, I formed an opinion that one of the participants in the debate appeared to be medicated, as evident by the slow, slightly slurred speech and flat affect of his demeanour. Who could that be?
Let me answer that question in the style that Stephen Harper demonstrated during the debate.
I believe that judiciously applied doses of physician-prescribed medication can help individuals with personality disorders such as narcissism maintain control over some of the more extreme manifestations of their sociopathic behaviours.