Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Framing of Michael Ignatieff

Just short of two years ago, Stéphane Dion was chosen as the new leader of the Liberal Party. Outside of Quebec, many people hadn't heard of him until then and didn't know anything about him. The Conservative Party was thinking ahead; this man would be their biggest competitor in the next federal election, and they had an opportunity. Enter the frame.

The first major piece of media about the man himself was the slogan: "Stéphane Dion is not a leader." Twenty months later an election was called, and Dion's biggest problem was the public's perception that he is not a leader. If there's one thing for which you have to respect the Conservatives, it's their tactical acumen.

Now, finally, Dion's first mistake has taken its course and he's stepped down to make room for Michael Ignatieff. What have we heard about the latter? He went to Harvard, he spent a lot of time in the USA, and he used to support the Iraq war. In Conservative-speak that will be, "He's an ivory tower elite, out of touch with ordinary Canadians, and he flip-flops on the issues." I hope that he won't make the same mistake as Dion; the race is on to see who can frame Ignatieff first and best.

Clearly, he's well aware of the above. The Globe and Mail reports:
Mr. Ignatieff's response to the prospect of the Conservatives quickly launching attack ads against him was further evidence of his ability - as Mr. Harper once boasted - to take a punch. Rather than bleat about Conservative mean-spiritedness, he all but dared his opponents to take aim at him. "The least I can say is that we are in a situation of parliamentary crisis," Mr. Ignatieff said. "It would seem to me a very serious mistake to engage in partisan attacks against the party leader at this moment. I hope I make myself clear."
Way to kick things off, Iggy. Not only is he daring them to try it, he's framing himself in the process as a man who's not to be trifled with, just the sort of thing that might have saved Dion early on. This is the hard edge that the public needs to see. Now give us more.


M|U said...

I have yet to form any real opions about Ignatief's politics, but I am so far impressed with his media skills. That alone should make him far more successful than Dion.

Michael Reimer said...

Yes, not to mention that he's also quite a bit more photogenic.