Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Memories of predictions

Now is as good a moment as any to haul out some of the predicted conventional wisdom surrounding the Olympics and their political impact. Remember this oldie but goodie from L. Ian MacDonald at the end of July:
There are three reasons why Harper should do everything in his power to remain in office until the fall of 2010, which might be the very reasons for the Liberals to hasten the downfall of this minority House.

The first is the economy. The second is the Vancouver Winter Games. And the third is next year's G8 summit, to be hosted by Canada at Muskoka.
The Vancouver Games loom as a feel-good moment for the country, with an impressive harvest of medals in the offing. Harper and his ministers should spend a good part of those 17 days in Vancouver and Whistler, basking in the reflected glow of that good feeling. Harper could even do some on-site research for his forthcoming book on hockey, a work in progress that has been delayed by his current job.
Oh the perils of plotting long term strategery on paper in Canadian politics these days. Now granted, MacDonald was arguing for a fall 2010 election, not spring 2010, but his take on the Olympic effect that the Harper crew were supposed to latch onto and factor into election planning just doesn't seem to be panning out. There's not likely to be any Olympic effect for spring 2010 let alone fall 2010.

More speculation that we heard on the Olympic halo effect:
...the game plan is to keep Parliament quiet while the Vancouver Olympics are on and hope Canadian athletes do well in the medal parade.

By their own internal logic, Conservative strategists think gold medals by the men's and women's hockey teams in particular will translate into that kind of feel-good moment that will lead to a majority government.
"[Former Prime Minister Brian] Mulroney has allegedly told them that the Olympics will be worth five or six points to the [Conservatives]"
The Conservatives may still be looking for a boost from the Olympics:
The Conservatives are looking to the Olympics, the Speech from the Throne and the budget to restore their fortunes after a dreadful month.
The Duffy/Nancy Greene video effort to exploit the moment suggests that may be so.

Yet where are we today? Reading headlines like this: "Tory hopes for Olympic 'bounce' are likely to fall flat." Probably more like that to come as the end of the Olympics nears and that dynamic settles in. This notion that there would be beneficial political fallout from the Games transferred over to the government has seemed far-fetched from the beginning. Just too cute a script to expect to come true.

Update: Letter to the editor of the Globe today:
The Olympic video campaign starring Mike Duffy and Nancy Greene Raine is a crass attempt by the Conservatives to link their fortunes to the work of others (Tories Push Patriotism – And Possibly Procure Votes – Feb. 20). The over-the-top banter comparing Stephen Harper, as their “strong leader,” with the Olympic athletes is political opportunism written in a style reminiscent of the self-glorifying propaganda we see from China or North Korea. The Conservatives should be ashamed, but we know they won’t be.