So what's the dominant storyline to emerge from Week One? In my respectful submission, it's got to be the limits of the Harper machine's message control, and his petulant reaction to its failure.
Getting Mr. and Ms. Average Voter to identify with journalists wasn't supposed to be easy, but Harper's just made it a hell of a lot easier. The default modus operandi for the Harper Machine and its mini-Roves has always been slagging the media and repeating the Big Lie about "left-wing bias." And for a while they've been able to sell that, despite the obvious political leanings of the conglomerates that own most of the major media outlets.
So while I'm reluctant to take sides with the corporate media, given the way I've been slagging them, they seem to have gotten it right on this at least. When you make it clear that you're not going to answer questions about local campaigns, and then limit reporters to four questions at a time, and then refuse to answer the questions you don't like, and then won't talk about why you're not willing to discuss it, well, that kind of sends a message about arrogance, contempt and control-freakery, doesn't it. Herding reporters behind steel police-state barricades ain't great optics, either.
The obvious message, then, is that for all his blather about accountability and transparency, Harper's committed to neither. He campaigns in a bubble. His handlers won't allow an unscripted moment. God forbid he should have to interact with normal people with normal lives and ordinary everyday concerns. The guy won't know what to say. Look how pissy and tight-lipped he gets when he's asked questions he doesn't want to answer.
How hard is it to tie that to his government's whole pattern of hyper-partisanship, vindictiveness, stonewalling and contempt? There's an easily recognizable theme here, and the story almost tells itself. For the last four years, we've left our government and our public institutions in the hands of a man characterized, more than anything else, by an aggressively totalitarian mindset. A guy who lies, smears, prevaricates, prorogues, misrepresents, stonewalls, misdirects, lashes out and doesn't have the stones to face up to the consequences. All we need to do is keep reminding people of the record and draw the parallels between it and the events of the past week.
I can't pretend that this is the most thorough or detailed analysis, but the stories are still being written. And that's the strategic opening here – much more so than tactical considerations about astroturfing, income-splitting, notional coalitions, broadcast cartels or debates.
While the narrative's still in flux, this is our chance to influence it. Let's Stay On Message, comrades.