Ottawa Ontario – There is a point with every political attack on an opponent when you have to put a leash on it and move on to another issue. Staying on an issue too long gives your opponent time to get organized and counter attack, thereby limiting your impact. Both the Khadr and Rolling Stone issues are good examples of this.
In the Khadr case the Conservatives did exceptionally well when they went on the attack against Trudeau’s decision to pay off a terrorist. The public outcry which they helped stoke made their point that it was a bad deal and taxpayers got hosed again by a Prime Minister who is soft on terrorists and who shows no concern for our hard earned tax dollars.
However, smelling a winning issue the Conservatives kept at it too long. Sending an MP to the United States to keep the issue going and in turn criticizing the Prime Minister while down there gave their opponents in PMO the opening they needed to push back. One can argue about how effective that pushback has been, but dragging the issue out for too long has allowed the Liberals to muddy the waters just enough that recent polls show the Khadr affair having little impact on the Liberals popularity. It will make a great attack ad for the Conservatives in 2019, remind Canadians then, right now they need to put a leash on it.
I would also add it is essential to check on your own party’s position on the very issue you are about to unleash. It is a dumb idea to attack a Canadian Prime Minister when you are in the United States if your own party had previously attacked their opponents for doing the same thing. It allows your opponents to completely muddy the water and switch the issue to one that they can capitalize on. In other words don’t shoot yourself in your own foot. If you don’t know your own party’s record on an issue, you can bet your opponents political research staff do.
The Rolling Stone cover issue is another example. When the story came out, get in your attack and get out before your opponent recovers and pushes back. This type of fluff piece always offers an opportunity for some type of attack, both serious ones and humorous ones. Link it to almost anything you want (it is summer and not a lot of people are paying attention anyways) get your hit and get out. Staying on an issue such as this one for too long leads to absurd attacks such as the one that Trudeau gracing a magazine cover will somehow hurt Canada’s position in the NAFTA negotiations. That line of attack smacks of too much coffee in the OLO or staff drinking too much of thier own political Kool-Aid.
Issues evolve every day, new ones come up and a good attack team can capitalize on them by constantly pivoting to a new issue just as your opponent figures out their counter attack. That is how the game is played. The Conservatives need to figure out when to put a leash on it and move on.