Shoulda, woulda, coulda...
When first started making sales presentations in front of groups of people, one of my trainers gave me this little gem: "There are three speeches every salesman makes - the one he's going to make, the one he makes, and the one he makes to his steering wheel on the way home. Most times, the last one is the best."
Watching the debate, I'm struck by some of the "steering wheel" lines - the lines that weren't used:
- Jack Layton complaining about for-profit healthcare.
Stephen Harper: "I find it disturbing that the other leaders seem to think the words 'for profit' are profane when it comes to our universal health care system. At the end of the day, all health care is 'for profit' - do you think the doctors, nurses, janitors and technicians are working all those hours in such difficult conditions just to break even?"
- Paul Martin talking about our tax system and the poor.
Stephen Harper: "It's very easy for Paul Martin - whose personal wealth is worth far more than the rest of us on this stage combined - to talk about our 'redistributive tax system' since he's done so well under it. And since CSL has all but avoided it."
- Paul Martin saying a GST cut is regressive and his Liberal income tax measures are best for Canada's poor.
Stephen Harper: "For Paul Martin to say his half-hearted income tax cuts will be of more benefit to this country's poor than a cut in the GST is absolutely astounding. He'll have to explain his math here: how does an income tax cut help the poorest third of Canadian families who already don't pay any income tax? How can those families pay less than zero?"
- Paul Martin promising a chicken in every pot. Or at least in every Liberal pot. And by chicken, I mean wads of cash in brown paper envelopes. But I digress...
Stephen Harper: "Paul Martin is talking about health care, agricultural policy, tax relief, childcare, and every other aspect of government as if he hasn't been in power for the past thirteen years. Was he a bystander all this time? Nothing but an observer collecting a Ministerial salary? If he truly wanted to implement these policies, hasn't he had ample time and opportunity to do so?"
- Paul Martin ducking - pick your own infuriating moment.
Stephen Harper: "This is just like Question Period - Mr. Martin talking at length but not answering the question."
- Paul Martin: "The fact is that we kept all our promises."
Stephen Harper: Pffffffttttt! *spewing his drink out his nose in incredulity*
- Paul Martin wondering what would have happened if PM Sr., Lester Pearson, and Tommy Douglas had given Canadians a buck a day and called it healthcare.
Stephen Harper: "Do we really want a childcare system that thirty years from now is in as deep a crisis as healthcare is today?"
Oh, I know Harper couldn't have said some of the stuff I'm fantasizing about here. The truth is that he did just fine. He talked mostly about his own policies. When he attacked, it was appropriate and fairly restrained. And his self-deprecating line during his closing remarks about not being fiery or passionate - "...but you already know that" - was perfect.
Duceppe was a spoiler. Layton was ignored. Martin was desperate. Harper won.