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.