Clark/Good: Like an Orphan’s Club charity event
The weekend promos had heightened the anticipation; what I thought would be the Davis Cup of Politics–BC’s top-rated talk show host Bill Good vs. the province’s top ranked politician, Christy Clark–would take to the air in Vancouver Monday. Maybe not the match of the year, but hopefully some hard-hitting serves and returns, drawing “oohs” and “aahs” from listeners province-wide.
But soon after two big name seeds took to the court (CKNW’s radio studio) I felt like I was listening to an ‘NW Orphan’s Club charity event.
This match-up began with a 10-minute speech by the visiting opponent.
Ten minutes of ”How good (pun intended) I am” by Clark displayed her terrific skills: self-aggrandisement, selective memory, tried and tested cliches (“There is only one taxpayer!” and “We’re getting government out of the way of job creation”.)
And once more, the oft-repeated past promises: jobs, helping families, seniors, reduce court backlogs, and–wait for it–The Evergreen Line!
The opening ceremony over, Good then took to the court and served up a good question about Clark’s promise of speedy action to bring the Stanley Cup rioters to justice. But Clark sliced the question, changed her initial vow of speed to now just prosecuting “to the full extent of the law”.
And Good pretty well let her get away with that, moving on to the issue of televising the court proceedings etc. instead of nailing her over and over again about her own failed “accountability” factor of fast action.
And so it went. Lobbed questions and skillfully returned serves on a whole variety of issues–and then I understood why Clark had chosen the Good show for such a rare question-and-answer media appearance: Good is NOT a political reporter.
He did his best; he asked topical questions; he tried to deliver serve up the odd backhand or forehand. But Good is no Michael Smyth (or Harvey Oberfeld).and Clark was able to easily put her own spin on everything without having to counter many hard volleys.
For example, when Clark said the government couldn’t afford any pay increases for teachers or public servants, I would have asked how she then expects them (and the rest of us) to pay for all the HIGHER FEES, LICENCES, MSP RATES, TRANSIT FARES, FUEL TAXES, ICBC HIKES, HYDRO COSTS ETC. ETC. the government and its agencies are constantly and increasingly downloading on us.
And when Clark said repeatedly, in response to a question about her low poll ratings, that we’re still a year and a half away from an election, I would have jumped on that!
After all, this is a party leader in power without any public mandate as premier or for her government. Remember she herself has said her government is totally not Campbell’s government–so how can it govern without a mandate of its own? She herself vowed to seek a mandate within six months of taking office, so I would have delivered an ace on this one, demanding to know why she has broken her own vow, why she disrespects the public’s right to vote for their government, and how dare she insist she can hold on for another year and a half without seeking a mandate?
And then there were Clark’s repeated assertions the government can’t do more for many or address issues it wanted to because it’s so difficult to balance the budget. I would have asked her this: “You sure you’re not just building up revenues so you can deliver the usual the pre-election news of good government leading to more revenues than expected and then do the usual pre-vote give-aways?”
It’s called going for the gusto–tough questioning and even tougher follow-ups–and that was clearly missing from the NW match.
It was an easy match for Clark. She barely had to break a sweat and didn’t have to show any real respect for the voters.
In fact, where was the respect for Good and ‘NW? She wouldn’t even serve up the imminent announcement regarding two coming by-election dates, in return for 90 minutes of free, almost charitable, airtime?
We should all get tax-deductions …just for listening.
Harvey Oberfeld is a blogger and retired journalist and broadcaster. This column originally appeared in his blog, Keeping It Real. Reprinted with permission.