1. Get it together. I would never claim to be an expert on B.C. provincial politics but I know a thing or two about leadership races generally and I can't for the life of me figure out what the heck is going on with the NDP leadership race out there. They're a party that is roughly tied in the polls with the governing Liberals. You would think being their leader would be a job worth having and yet the party is acting as if nobody wants it.
What should be the most important deadline in the leadership campaign - the new membership cut-off - is in 11 days. In campaign organizational terms, 11 days is 15 minutes: If you haven't started building a machine yet, you aren't going to be able to do much in the next 11 days. Prior to yesterday, there was exactly one candidate in the race - a pot activist (not that there's anything wrong with that). Yesterday, a second candidate announced their candidacy and today comes a third meaning both of those candidates will have less than two weeks to sign up new members.
Of course, we find out in today's Globe that former Premier Mike Harcourt doesn't think much of these three candidates and the "heavies will be coming soon." Coming when? After the membership cut-off? A serious party - one ready to govern a province like British Columbia - doesn't have their "heavies" sit out the most important phase of a leadership race. This contrasts with what has been a spectacularly vibrant, competitive Liberal leadership race to date full of both substance and organizational muscle. The contrast, from out east at least, couldn't be more striking.
2. Triumphant return. I am a big fan of ESPN's Bill Simmons (please bear with me, unless you hate sports in which case probably best to skip this bullet). While I have lots of favourite Simmons columns, my favourite paragraph I have ever read from him is one he wrote a few years back, right after the Steelers eliminated the Colts from the playoffs after idiot Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt shanked a game winning kick (if you didn't follow wrestling in the 80s or early 90s, this won't make a word of sense to you):
The Jim Ross Award for Best Moment that Could Have Been Made into a Fantastic Story Line
To Mike Vanderjagt for shanking that season-ending field goal, which looked like one of Ali Haji Sheikh's efforts if you were playing the 1982 Giants at the All-Madden Level and completely screwed up the kicking wheel. After all of Vanderjagt's problems with Manning over the years, I kept waiting for the postgame press conference when Vanderjagt pretended to be upset, answered a few questions, and then suddenly Bill Cowher's music started playing (with Cowher dressed as Sergeant Slaughter), followed by Vanderjagt breaking into a big smile, and then the two of them hugging as Jim Ross screamed "No! No! No! My God, no!" Then Vanderjagt would rip off his Colts jersey to reveal a Steelers jersey underneath. This would have been one of the five greatest moments in sports history. And you know what? There's still time.
I giggle like a 10-year old every time I read it. For some reason, when I heard that Kory Teneycke was back as head of Sun TV yesterday, I couldn't help but think of this paragraph. I have no idea what the real story behind his resignation then triumphant return but I have a funny feeling it would make a fantastic wrestling storyline one day. It also might be fun to reprint some of the juicier comments from certain journalists on the Twitter machine and elsewhere about Kory over the last few months. I have a nagging feeling there's a lesson here about kicking someone while they're down (or at least perceived to be down) but I just can't figure out what it is.
3. GTA Grits. Two things about Linda Diebel's story today: First, Mark Holland won't lose his seat in Pickering-Ajax. I know there isn't a Liberal in the country the Conservatives would rather beat than him but it won't happen. Mark knows his riding and is working the ground harder than anyone else in the country. His opponent continues to do lots of cable television talk shows about Afghanistan. He looks good on TV talking about Afghanistan and I hope he continues to do that a lot of cable TV talk shows until election day. Mark will be fine.
Second, nothing in my quote at the end of the story that readers of this space haven't seen before: I don't think Liberals - and that goes way beyond just whose picture is on the big posters - understand who our voters are anymore, who's still with us and who has left and what a winning coalition looks like in 2011. It is not the same as it was in 1968 or 1993 and we need to put together a new winning coalition. (oh ya, and I'm sure Bob Rae was a bit surprised this morning to find out that Ken Dryden is now representing Toronto Centre).
4. Nixonian knob-heads. I agree with everything in Susan Delacourt's blog regarding anonymous Liberals. My gut is what drives most of them is a very Nixonian instinct - they think there are "insiders" in the Liberal Party who have power, influence, friends, get invited to fancy parties, wear expensive suits, etc and then there are "outsiders" who don't have any of these things but aspire to be the "insiders."
When the party is going well, the "insiders" find a way to engage or co-opt the "outsiders" so they feel like they are part of the team. When things are going less well, the "insiders" feel insecure or less organized and don't engage the "outsiders", which reminds the "outsiders" they will likely never be "insiders" so long as the current "insiders" are filling the role. So, they run their mouths to reporters to both damage the "insiders" and to make themselves feel a little bit more important. The entire construct is of course not real if you understand who does what in the party but I think that's what drives most of them, I think.