Andrew Scheer Has A Secret Weapon
December 1st, 2019 | RR
Andrew Scheer has wit. That's one of the reasons I voted for him in the CPC leadership. Scheer also knows how to use references to pop culture, which is something he should have done more during the campaign. He loves The Simpsons, he's good at cracking playful roast-style jokes and he has a way about him that most Canadians would like—if they saw more of it. Whoever thought it was a good idea to encourage Scheer to restrain himself made a huge mistake. The Andrew Scheer I voted for in the CPC leadership race was not the Andrew Scheer I saw on the campaign trail.
Scheer could go viral if the CPC HQ would let him. He probably has enough material swirling around inside his head to trigger 9,000 memes, but someone had him muzzled. Or, he was muzzling himself. Either way, Andrew Scheer needs to unleash his wit before the next election.
Most Conservative voters spent time hoping Andrew would have some clever burns up his sleeve for the leaders debates. He did, but only about one or two out of a potential dozen. Scheer's performance was good, but he tried too hard to be—hard? At times, he was a bit too tame and he failed to pull out some Layton-style chutzpah to get the memers meming—other times he came across too angry and combative. It was partly the internet that helped Donald Trump get elected, but Scheer only managed to produce about one memorable moment for Reddit to talk about. It's not like Justin Trudeau hasn't produced enough material over the past four years to inspire the Conservative leader, so there were no excuses.
As for being sexist, homophobic and bigotted—Andrew Scheer could easily turn all of those accusations into punchlines. We need more jokes about Justin Trudeau painting himself black while he simultaneously calls Conservatives white supremacists. We need more clever shots at Trudeau's feminism, more shots at his corruption and more shots at his hypocritical attacks on Harper. In terms of sexism, Andrew Scheer needs to talk about how he had a baby on board his campaign plane and about how his chief advisor was a woman named Kenzie Potter.
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"Scheer could go viral if the CPC HQ would let him."
There is so much material sitting under Andrew Scheer's nose that we have to wonder why Conservative strategists aren't making the most of it. Scheer should have annihilated Justin Trudeau in every debate with subtly debasing jokes and straight up shots at his hypocrisy. Canadians may be dullards when it comes to a lot of things, but when it comes to jokes and pop culture, there is a way to win them over.
Andrew Scheer can become popular in Canada just by telling more jokes.
Everyone loves The Simpsons. Every Canadian loves a good moose joke, Star Wars reference, or a small bit of self deprecation. Andrew Scheer needs to hire strategists that will let him be himself—the same way Steve Bannon encouraged Trump's handlers to “let Trump be Trump”. Unlike Trump, though, Scheer is not a liability. There aren't any pussy-grabs hiding in his closet and he has a reputation in Ottawa as a pious, god-fearing husband and father. Andrew Scheer is no Donald Trump, meaning the Conservative Party has nothing to lose by letting him express himself.
Before the next CPC convention, Scheer has to convince the party's members to give him a second chance. Again, his wit will solve any issues members might currently have. Those who haven't yet experienced Andrew Scheer's wit will quickly change their tune about him when they do. With that said, it will also be important to acknowledge where Andrew Scheer's messaging went wrong.
Here are some things Scheer and his strategists could have done differently.
The PPC Controversy
Rather than own the controversy in which the Conservative Party hired Warren Kinsella's firm to destroy Maxime Bernier's PPC, Andrew Scheer dodged the question and ended up sounding like a used car salesman being called out on his shitty tactics. Scheer should have said, “Yes, it is true. When Maxime Bernier chose to stab his Conservative colleagues in the back, he chose to become an opponent of our party. Therefore, we treated him the same as we would any other opponent.”
He should have then closed by saying he was proud of doing it and that he would gladly do it again.
Instead, Andrew Scheer repeated the same line over and over and over again, sounding like a typical politician running off a script. “We never make comments on vendors we may or may not have contracts with,” Scheer said, repeatedly, to the point where it made him sound ridiculous.
Scheer's tactic became absurd by the time the third reporter had asked him the same question following the controversy. It became an instant campaign killer. Whether it was Hamish Marshall or another advisor that encouraged him to avoid the question, the damage was done. Scheer's non-answer and “greasy politician” schtick even made his supporters cringe. The whole reaction was a devastating misstep.
Attempting to undermine the PPC was a perfectly legitimate and standard political move. Maxime Bernier should not have expected to get a free pass after spending the greater part of 2018 bashing the Conservative Party and its leader. His reaction to the news was typical Bernier-style butthurt. It was Andrew Scheer's public reaction to the “controversy” that did the damage, not the revelation that the CPC was doing what every other political party normally does.
Being Too Evasive On Social Issues
When the media attempted to call out Andrew Scheer for his personal views on gay marriage and abortion, Scheer pulled the whole “greasy politician” schtick again by resorting to a series of scripted talking points. Rather than defend his views, he evaded questions and repeated lines like, “I believe in the freedom of all Canadians.” He would repeat these lines so often, it made him sound absurd.
Andrew Scheer should have said something along the lines of, “I believe that a human fetus is a living person. No matter how many times you ask me that, or try to shame me, the answer will be the same. However, I lead a very big and diverse political party that would never allow me to impose my personal views on Canadians, even if I wanted to.”
Stephen Harper believed a lot of the same things Scheer does, but it never amounted to anything. Scheer could have referenced Harper's legacy a bit more to make his point and to defend his positions, but his handlers were clearly scared of the issues and of bringing up Stephen Harper's name. Had Scheer defended his positions, rather than evade them by blasting out a bunch of scripted lines, he would have gained more respect from conservatives and from ordinary Canadians.
Real leadership and strength come in the form of confidence and conviction—two things that weren't offered to Canadians by Andrew Scheer's rigid script.
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