Who to believe?
Who would you rather buy soap from? Salesman A, a decent, trustworthy man flogging a damaged brand? Or Salesman B, an inept guy pushing a trusted brand? That is what this rash of stories is all about. It’s also what the entire provincial election campaign will likely be about too.
Salesman A is Ontario PC Leader John Tory, a decent man who has cultivated the high esteem of Ontarians, but whose party cultivated their low esteem while in power. Salesman B is Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, who has done numerous things he promised he would not, like raise taxes and keep coal-fired power plants running, all the while saying, with a straight face, that these aren’t “broken promises” but “sound management”—and many people believe him simply because they believe Liberals are trustworthy.
And so we get this showdown over the health care premium, which Tory says he’d scale back and McGuinty says he would not—and which is all about posturing and has nothing at all to do with either taxes or health care. Tory is trying to whittle away at the trusted Liberal name by pointing to the dimwit in charge. And McGuinty is trying to undercut Tory’s personal appeal by pointing to the PC party logo. This will go on for months.
Alas, when it comes to soap, the choice is a no-brainer. Of course you buy the good soap, even from a doofus. You feel bad for the nice guy, but his soap’s no good. For the Tories to win, they’ll need to remind voters that politics isn’t soap: they’re choosing a leader, not a middle manager, and things like sound judgment and quick wits really do matter. In other words, they have to raise the stakes. Not an easy task.