Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Liberals Forget How Wrong They Were On Attack Ads

If one was to judge Liberals by their memory, they deserve to lose.

There is no clearer example of Liberals forgetting the past then how they are now responding to the current Conservative attack ads against Justin Trudeau.

In 2009 the Conservatives ran attack ads against Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. Liberals said the aggressive ads wouldn't hurt Ignatieff's popularity, in fact many claimed the ads would backfire. Liberals then arrogantly boasted how the commercials were helping them rake in the cash, calling the ads, "Manna from heaven." Turned out those Liberals were horribly wrong.

In 2013 the Conservatives have begun running attack ads against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Many of the same Liberals from 2009 are saying the ads won't hurt Trudeau's popularity and of course that the ads will backfire. Oh, and again, just like they did in 2009, Liberals are now boasting how the Conservative attack ads are only helping the party bring in outrageous piles of cash.

These similarities between Liberals in 2009 and Liberals in 2013 are not exhaustive, one mustn't forget the almighty common denominator of arrogance. Arrogance that each new leader is not just invulnerable to negative ads, but that they only make him stronger.

When the Conservatives in 2009 began airing attack ads against Michael Ignatieff, the then national director of the Liberal Party Rocco Rossi cheered, and not ironically. From a 2009 Toronto Star article:

"Rocco Rossi calls the attack ads "manna from heaven," and says they've sparked a rush in donations to the Liberal party from supporters outraged at the Conservative tactics.
It seems the Conservatives, whom Ignatieff has credited with helping unite the Liberals by precipitating last fall's parliamentary showdown, are now helping fill the coffers too.
"They have this innate ability at every turn to help the Liberal party. This is one of their best favours yet," Rossi said in an interview yesterday....
The response so far is exceeding expectations, Rossi said.
"We're already showing greater response than any email solicitation that we've done to date. I'm very excited." The party dramatically boosted its donations in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same time last year, and is on track to do "significantly" better in the second quarter, he said. 
Looking back at the national director of the Liberal Party's comments and the absolute damage those attacks did to Ignatieff, it's clear Rossi was wrong. But even with the clarity of hindsight, many Liberals today are failing to learn from history.

Compare Rossi's reaction to the Conservative ads in 2009 and this Liberal blogger's response to the Conservative ads attacking Trudeau:
"Conservative Ad Backfires:...I submit this overwhelming response as proof positive this Conservative ad is blowing up in their low rent face:

(Quoting Winnipeg Free Press) 'Conservative attack ads against Justin Trudeau have turned into a financial boon for the Liberal party. The party raised $336,000 in the 48 hours following Trudeau's landslide victory in the Liberal leadership race Sunday.
Officials say that's more than double the party's previous top haul for an e-mail fundraising campaign. They say the donations poured in after two back-to-back mass email solicitations that urged Liberals to fight back against Conservative attacks.'
Just as in 2009 when Liberals boasted arrogantly that attack ads wouldn't weaken their leader and actually argued they would help him, Liberals today are doing the exact same thing.

Using the same tired selective data, Liberal members are once again rationalizing their inherent bias and claiming their new leader can withstand a barrage of attack ads, forgetting the fact they said the same thing about Michael Ignatieff. (Compare opinions of two Liberal bloggers then and now: Far And Wide 2009 & 2013; BCer in Toronto 2009 & 2013)

Of course Justin Trudeau can avoid a fate similar to his unsuccessful predecessors but then he would have to respond to the Conservatives with corresponding aggressive advertisements, and soon.

That could happen; it would certainly stop the Liberals from repeating history, and just possibly start helping them to make it.


Jeff Jedras said...

Actually Scott, speaking of using selective data, since you handily provide the links, let me quote what I actually said in 2009, and in2013.

In 2009:

"It's too early to gauge the real impact, if any, of these ads."

"I don't buy theories about backlashes for negative ads."

"my evaluation would be the jury is still out"

The post was looking at the conclusion of one pollster that asked a specific question about the ads, and raising issues with its conclusions.

And in 2013:

"And it has worked for them before (see Dion, Stephen and Ignatieff, Michael). Will they make it a hat trick? Time will tell..."

"Which isn’t to say it’s not impossible."

This post was saying, based on a poll, Trudeau is already well defined, so negatively defining him will be more difficult. Not impossible, but more difficult.

Not everything is as black and white as you'd seem to like it to be. said...


You have said a lot of things, that's why I provided the three links for context.

In 2009 you said, "Yet more validation that these Conservative ads have been a misfire. I do agree that the impact bears watching in the long-term."

Clearly no matter the equivocation that opinion was wrong.

Your repeated attempt in 2013 to somehow argue that again this new leader will be impervious to attack ads should be viewed in the context of your perceived bias that is possibly leading you, and others, to be erroneously overly confident in your predictions.

The only black and white I claim to see is the text of the written word that I provided links to.

Steve V said...

Zzzz. said...


Yes get some rest, you must be tired from being right all the time. 2009 was an amazing analysis, and doubling down in 2013 was even better.

Steve V said...

Speaking of 2009, going to make anymore videos from your moms house? I loved your room decor, looked like a 12 year olds pad. Zzzzzz. said...


You're a great person and I hope you never change.

Jeff Jedras said...

"Your repeated attempt in 2013 to somehow argue that again this new leader will be impervious to attack ads..."

That is not what I said, as anyone who actually reads what I actually wrote can plainly see.

I know it helps your pet theories (which also have a sterling historical record for accuracy) when things fit into the neat little boxes you construct to support them. But you shouldn't make things up to squeeze them into your pre-determined narrative.

I'll leave you to your fiction writing, and wish you a pleasant morning.

Ryan Spinney said...

You seriously think Justin Trudeau is well defined?

For what, for barely any policy positions he's taken, for his years as an MP where he didn't propose 1 private member bill and made only 1 minor motion. Even Ruth Ellen Broseau has done more in office.

2 thirds of Liberals believe Justin Trudeau is popular only because of his last name and that's his own side.

So no Justin is not well defined and frankly he is in many ways more vulnerible then Dion and Iggnatiff. Justin doesn't have 2 years to prove his critics wrong. He has 1 year at best before its too late and the damage is done. The magnfying class on him is a double edge sword. said...


You stated justin Trudeau will be harder to define than previous Liberal Leaders, I fail to see how this is not another attempt to argue how yet another Leader will be able to withstand negative ads.

As for my pet theories being false (I would challenge you to present even one), I would like to cite a key difference between yourself and most others. Where most people make a mistake, like suggesting attack ads won't weaken a leader, they don't go on making that mistake when they're shown to be wrong. said...


There may have been a miscommunication. I don't think trudeau is well-defined nor better defined than Dion or Ignatieff, that opinion is held be Jeff (BCer in Toronto).

I agree with you Ryan.