If I’m Tim Hudak, my strategy for the leaders’ debate is simple: Waggle my finger.
It worked for Brian Mulroney. In the 1984 TV debate, he waggled a finger at Liberal John Turner over patronage plums dispensed by the departing Pierre Trudeau.
“I had no option,” Turner mewled.
“You had an option, sir,” Mulroney growled, finger waggling, “to say ‘no’ and you chose to say ‘yes’ to the old attitudes and the old stories of the Liberal Party.”
Turner was toast. Mulroney was prime minister. That waggle changed history.
If I’m Hudak, I memorize Mulroney’s words for Tuesday’s debate. They still fit — though on different Liberals, different scandals. I’d also warm up my waggling finger.
A finger waggle is a powerful weapon. It shows you’re forceful, while stressing the misbehaviour of the recipient — a spoiled child, an ill-trained dog.
If any government deserved to be waggled at, it’s the McWynnety Liberals.
Man, the debate should be an asterisk in the campaign. The election should be all but done, the Hudak horse cooled and in the barn.
The Kathleen Wynne/Dalton McGuinty regime is a sitting duck. The Liberals have notched more scandals than Lindsay Lohan. Ornge, gas plants, windmills, eHealth, slush funds, boondoggles, bungling …
Their government is past expiry. It is curdled milk.
Yet, polls say Wynne is even money to win. Good grief, that’s like Richard Nixon winning a landslide after Watergate.
Can’t let it happen. Least we can do is offer Tim some free advice for the debate.
If his finger’s not up to waggling, a wry chuckle and grimace also work. The tactic shows you’re dismissive of the other guy, but not too nasty.
Ronald Reagan clobbered Jimmy Carter in the 1980 U.S. debates by memorably chuckling, “there you go again,” every time Carter twisted Reagan’s record.
Perhaps Tim could try, “Gimme a break, Premier Mom,” or “I wonder what Dalton would say,” every time Wynne attacks his platform, which will be often, which is his own damn fault.
Hudak, facing the most corrupt government since Caligula, has handed Wynne plenty of ammo for the debate.
He courts trouble by saying things like “I am going to chop 100,000 jobs.”
True, it’s an excellent idea, long overdue, and will dent McWynnety’s disgraceful $270-billion debt.
We’d get by just fine with 100,000 fewer bureaucrats — but THEY’RE ALSO VOTERS!
Want to dust 100,000 voter/employees? Great! But do it after June 12. Surprise ’em.
Now Hudak will have to reassure debate moderator Steve Paikin, of TVOntario, that he’s not one of the 100,000. Or is he?
Sadly, Hudak can’t stand in silence for 90 minutes while Wynne and the NDP’s Andrea Horwath beat on each other.
He could rewrite the famous Lloyd Bentsen line to Republican Dan Quayle in the 1988 U.S. vice-presidential debate, after Quayle compared himself to Jack Kennedy.
Hudak could proclaim, “Premier, I served with Dalton McGuinty. I knew Dalton McGuinty. And, son of a gun, you are Dalton McGuinty.”
Speaking of Kennedy, I hope Hudak learns from the 1960 debates between JFK and Nixon.
Kennedy whupped Nixon not with what he said, but how he looked when he said it.
Radio listeners thought Nixon won. They couldn’t see his sweaty brow and darting eyes.
TV viewers could, so they gave it to JFK, hands down. I just watched the old videos.
Tim Hudak is no Jack Kennedy, either, but I’d comb his hair out, give him something to toss sexily, anything but that Leave It To Beaver helmet hair.
Looks shouldn’t matter in politics, you say? Well, how many fat, balding boozehound politicians do you know? Other than that guy, I mean.
A debate is about presence. Wynne should be a pushover. She has the charisma of Orville Redenbacher (someone sent me “separated at birth” photos).
I’d also steal from Mike Harris, who buried rookie McGuinty in the 1999 debates.
Harris, love him or hate him, was always crystal clear on what his Common Sense Revolution would do. Here’s what we’ll cut, here’s how it will create jobs, which is what it did.
People long to embrace Hudak’s Million Jobs Plan, but it leaves them scratching their heads.
The only thing we should be scratching is the itch left by a decade of corruption.
Waggle that finger, Tim.