Here's the latest Tory ad, which suggests to me the people who come up with these ideas are aggressive but not strategic.
What is the strategy behind this ad?
Of course, it's meant to ridicule the Liberal leader and I suppose to conjure up images of Howard Dean.
And I am sure hard-core Tory partisans will think that's wonderful.
But the purpose of a "negative" ad is to get non-partisans to turn against your opponent. Often such ads are based on hours and hours of polling research --- finding just that right weakness to expose.
This Tory ad looks like it was dreamed up in about five seconds, by a bunch of drunken frat boys.
It doesn't work on any level.
First off, few Canadians if any will make the Howard Dean connection. Secondly, and more importantly, any fair-minded, non-partisan individual viewing this ad will see it as nothing more than a clumsy hatchet job.
The end result could be to hurt the Tories more than the Liberals. Running attack ads is always risky and ads that clearly go over the line usually backfire. --- See Tory attack ad mocking Jean Chretien's facial features.
If I were the Liberals I would play a little political jiu-jitsu and turn this ad against the Tories.
"See how the Prime Minister is debasing political debate in this country with outrageous and appalling personal attacks? Haven't you had enough!"
Then there is the ethical factor. Michael Ignatieff never said "Yes" to an "unnecessary election." Yet the Tories are implying he did through a cheap editing trick.
Anybody could do that.
Here's how the Liberals could counter the Tory spot:
Announcer: Does Stephen Harper really want to close down orphanages and dump toxic waste into our lakes?
Clip of Stephen Harper: "Yes I do." (Never mind that Harper was actually answering the question, "Do you love kittens?")
In short, somebody needs to put a leash on whoever is writing these ads. Negative ads are like nitro glycerin, they can be powerful but should be handled with care. Score: 0 out of ten.