The Shotgun Blog
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Dion can't answer a question, but don't worry, it's not a "gaffe"
So Dion needed the simple question of "If you were Prime Minister today, what would you be doing about the economy?" to be repeated by CTV's Steve Murphy three times before he could answer. Dion is asking people to trust him to manage the country?
Will the mainstream media call this what it is? A gigantic gaffe? First results say no. The CTV says Dion was put on the defensive, CBC says nothing on their website, the Globe hypes up the defense--it was because of Dion's hearing problem. So puffins, crass jokes, or candidates posting conservative positions are major gaffes for the Conservative Party, but the leader of the Liberals not being able to answer a question on the economy, that's okay, he just doesn't understand the economy, no big deal.
Check out Hugh's post below for the video.
How about Liberal-fascists Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae saying the Green Shift won't be implemented because of the economy, contradicting Dion? Major gaffe right? To the mainstream media, it gets a little blurb at the end of the Globe article.
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It seems that YOU are the one who can't understand the question. You say the question was: "If you were Prime Minister today, what would you be doing about the economy?" But that is wrong. If you actually pay attention to the clip you posted, youw will see that the question was this the first time: "If you were Prime Minister now what would you have done about the economy and this crisis that Mr. Harper has not done." It was this the second time: "If you were Prime Minister now what would you have already done in this crisis that Mr. Harper hasn't done." Check. You will see you got it completely wrong. But had dion been asked the question you formulated, I have no doubt he would have understood it without difficulty.
There is no question that Dion heard all the words that were said to him. It seems pretty obvious that his problem of understanding the question was because it was a complex verb tense construction that resulted in an unclear question. Steve Murphy first asked, "If you were Prime Minister now what would you have done about the economy and this crisis that Mr. Harper has not done."
Dion correctly understood the "would you have done" as referring to the past, but Murphy does not say how far he wants Dion to go back, so Dion takes the question to be asking what he might have done if he had been PM troughout the last couple of years. Then Murphy tries to clarify, but says "if you were the Prime Minister right now". But that was not the time issue that was in question. So when Dion then thought Murphy meant 'what would you do NOW' that was a reasonable understanding.
Then when they restarted, Murphy stated the question differently. He asked: "If you were Prime Minister now what would you have already done in this crisis that Mr. Harper hasn't done." Dion rightly says he does not understand what the time of action is supposed to be. Murphy never said.
Dion even gives him options: "At which moment? Today? Or since a week? Or since two weeks? If I were the Prime Minister starting when? Today? If I were the Prime Minister today?" And Murphy again fails to clarify that he REALLY means 'what would you have done two weeks ago' or something like that.
Dion, I beleive, thought he was having trouble understanding the question because its complex verb tense structure was beyond his English comprehension. But it was actually Murphy's inability to formulate a simple, clear question and then his inability to clarify it that caused the confusion.
Most politicians at this level have the experience to just blather on if they don't understand a confused question, but Dion actually tried to understand Murphy by asking him what he meant. Dion should be advised just to plow on next time.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-10-09 9:21:02 PM
FC, give me a break. Has Harper ever been allowed to get away with an excuse like that?
The questions were simple. It had nothing to do with the tense. When you're answering questions with the media, you have to control what you want to say. Get the jist of the question, than get your talking point out. This just shows that Dion is running by the seat of his pants to come up with something for the economy. When he's put on the spot, he really has nothing.
Posted by: Chris Reid | 2008-10-09 9:33:38 PM
The media only report stories that fit the narrative - which at the moment is 'Stephen Harper' struggles to stop the Tory decline (or something to that effect).
If Rae and Ignatieff had said this stuff a few weeks ago when Dion was in rapid decline, I have no doubt it would have been major news.
As for sentence construction - Dion is a guy who brags about being the first PhD Prime Minister. You shouldn't have to dumb it down for him.
Why did the Liberals ask CTV to keep the tape secret if they weren't afraid of it. As long as Harper doesn't say anything else about it - and leaves the big attacks for the talking heads on TV, then this video should prove to be everything the Liberals feared.
One last thing - is this really the only such tape?
Posted by: Robert Jago | 2008-10-09 9:33:52 PM
Fact Check's moral relevator must be working in overdrive in order to attempt to explain away Dion's lack of ability to answer a simple question...
Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-10-09 10:38:24 PM
How much has the national debt went down when the Liberals were the governing party?
How much has the national debt went down when the Conservatives were the governing party?
What did the Liberal Party do that went THAT much wrong?
What did the conservative party do that went that much wrong?
If you want to sell us to the USA, you know you have to vote Conservative huh?
I felt more safe when governed by "stupid" Quebecer than when governed by Bush's lover Harper.
Posted by: St00h | 2008-10-09 11:09:26 PM
Admittedly the question was worded very poorly, and if the question were the only thing Dion had to go on to make sense of what was being requested of him, then I would have some sympathy.
But there was a preamble to the question. The preamble was repeated twice. The context of the question should have made it clear that Dion was being asked to explain what he would have done "in this crisis" that Harper has not done, given that Dion has criticized Harper for "doing nothing."
You accuse Harper of doing nothing in this crisis. What would you have done if you were PM in his place? Not really very difficult to figure out what the point of the question is, given the full context.
The problem was that Dion realized he had only a very lame answer: I'd have called a meeting, started my 30/50 thingie, blah, blah, blah.... In other words, Dion would have done *next to nothing* by now if he were PM. Not very satisfying when you are on the offensive because the other guy "isn't doing anything."
Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-10-09 11:14:22 PM
St00h sez: "I felt more safe when governed by "stupid" Quebecer than when governed by Bush's lover Harper."
Do you have these gay fantasies often? Something maybe you want to tell the group? Have you got a particular closet that you'd like to come out of?
Grant sez: "Admittedly the question was worded very poorly..."
Are you on crack? What the hell could be simpler than: "If you were Prime Minister, what would you have done differently than Harper to avert this crisis?"?
What the heck more does Dion need? Would a "Dick and Jane" book help?
Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-10-09 11:33:14 PM
Imagine the dreaded 3 a.m. phone call;" Mr. Dion.This is the POTUS,we have information that your country is in danger of an imminent atack". Dion." Why is a resident of the United states calling me about a dangerous immigration tax,click"...Yep,no problem with an inability to understand English.
Posted by: wallyj | 2008-10-09 11:36:26 PM
"...was because it was a complex verb tense construction that resulted in an unclear question."
Screw the economy, if Stephan "Jerry Lewis" Dion can't hold considerable grasp of a language 90% of the country speaks, its gonna seem very deja vu *("oh drugs, I taut he sed trucks").
Posted by: Condor | 2008-10-09 11:54:33 PM
The apoligists for Dion are just as hilarious as he is, although not quite as dangerous..".could you repeat the question"- could you repeat you're answer" "whats the question again" Where am I? "what am I doing again" "oh yeah, I'm trying to be Prime Minister" could I repeat the question again" "what the who now" "Is this France" "where am I ?" could you repeat the question" Wasn't it the Liberal media line that this guy was an intelectual ? Where am I ?
Posted by: Sean | 2008-10-10 12:09:21 AM
Conservatives still don't get that Harper is only in good shape because he inherited a huge surplus from the Liberals. THey think this 'stewardship' will take us through. News flash: It won't. Harper wanted to break up the banking system he now relies on for his good image. He wanted to send troops to Iraq costing us countless billions of dollars on a pointless war so Bush backers could reap oil profits (oh no, it was for weapons of mass destruction, wasn't it?). Either one of those choices would have had us in recession. The question is not what Dion and the Liberals would have done, it's 'What would Harper have done had he been in for a decade?'. The answer is that he would have bankrupted us. Conservatives are delusional about their ability to run an economy and a country. Harris couldn't. Eves hid a $9bil deficit. Mulroney couldn't have wisely spent foodstamps he was so inept. Naw, anyone but the Conservatives this time. Not when there's so much at stake.
Posted by: atomick | 2008-10-10 4:03:02 AM
"Mr. Dion.This is the POTUS,we have information that your country is in danger of an imminent attack".
Dion, " Why is a resident of the United states calling me about a dangerous immigration tax?" click.
~wallyj | 9-Oct-08 11:36:26 PM
That is priceless.
Grant Brown had it exactly right at Thursday, October 09, 2008 @ 11:14 PM
Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-10 7:30:07 AM
atomik, by huge surplus don't you really mean huge liberal overtaxation?
Posted by: x2para | 2008-10-10 8:09:51 AM
Not only does Canada need a new prime minister, CTV needs a new interviewer. Steve Murphy, what a stupid question! I have a degree in English and have worked for decades as an editor and writer, and I can tell you I don't understand the question. As asked, it's impossible to answer. And it's dishonest for CTV to promise to cut the false start and then not only broadcast it, but make it a news story. So much for news integrity. I won't trust CTV again. I'm not voting for Dion in my riding, but I do respect the man.
Posted by: Outraged | 2008-10-10 8:27:06 AM
Outraged sez: "I have a degree in English and have worked for decades as an editor and writer, and I can tell you I don't understand the question. As asked, it's impossible to answer."
Here's the question that was asked: "If you were Prime Minister now, what would you have done differently?"
What's so hard to understand? Really, if you're having problems with such a simple question, your college profs need to be fired and the publication you work for needs to reassess their hiring practices...
Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-10-10 10:38:48 AM
Porky Pig meets Pinocchio.Good for a laugh!!
Posted by: jackmacleod | 2008-10-10 10:58:48 AM
Porky Pig meets Pinocchio.Good for a laugh!!
Posted by: jackmacleod | 2008-10-10 10:59:20 AM
Mulroney brought death to the middle class in the eighties, Harper aka "stickman" will devastate something somewhere before his reign ends. He answers to no one, and shows his great affections by shaking his child's hand on their way to school? How American... How different the far West is from the far East eh! Most of us share absolutely nothing in common incl mannerisms.
If Harper's plan is to divide this country even more than it already is... he is diffenately succeeding. Today for the 1st time in my 46 yrs I found myself actually pondering the Quebec idea and agreeing with some of their positions, I would never have thought that day would come NEVER!
We have an underground economy here that only gets stronger every year it's amazing what you can buy with good old cash... but that's another long story... good read too!
And so CTV news has now become the Canadian equivalent of the great American FOX news. Who'd a thunk?
PS: Holy Conservative's out there... please don't take yourselves to seriously... the rest of us don't.
Posted by: JM | 2008-10-10 12:36:03 PM
JM; Perhaps you'd be happier in Cuba...
Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-10-10 12:41:16 PM
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