EDITORIAL – Horgan handed Clark a victory in first leaders’ debate

Horgan, Clark and Weaver. (Image: News 1130)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE FIRST leaders’ debate was a doozy — full of both entertainment and information. As always, there’s the question of who won.

The answer is Christy Clark, with John Horgan second and Andrew Weaver bringing up the rear.

If you didn’t hear it — the debate was broadcast on Vancouver radio station News 1130 on Thursday morning — you will have the clear impression that Horgan came across as angry and rude throughout the hour and a half.

That’s because the media have a habit of focusing on brief moments of style instead of going deep on substance. Horgan, and to a lesser extent Weaver, were relentless on fact-checking Clark’s claims about such things as debt, seniors’ care, transit, and the costs of life in British Columbia.

As a result, Clark was on the defensive much of the time, becoming repetitive, talking frequently about “the kids” and harking back to the bad old days of the 1990s when the NDP under Glen Clark were in power.

But Horgan opened himself up to observations about his aggressiveness, too frequently talking over Clark as she defended the Liberal record. In perhaps the most famous moment of the debate, Clark touched Horgan on the arm and said, “Calm down, John.”

He could have simply ignored it. Instead, he complained, and provided the Liberals with a too-good-to-resist hashtag — #calmdownJohn, which in itself provided some fodder for follow-up media reports.

For most of the debate, Horgan was effective, to the point that moderator Bill Good agreed with him several times. But those moments of indignation did him in.

To put it another way, Horgan may have won the battle but he lost the war.

Most voters in the province didn’t hear the debate, or watch the television version later. What they know is based on the media focus on his interruptions, impatience, occasional flashes of testiness, and his complaints to Good that Clark was getting more microphone time than he was.

Clark came out the winner because Horgan handed it to her — not in substance, but in style. 

About Mel Rothenburger (9367 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Horgan handed Clark a victory in first leaders’ debate

  1. One of two kids arguing in the playground won. Nonsense. The most information was presented by the one who stayed out of the mess. If this is what is called winning in politics, no wonder many people don’t vote, and that is the real reason behind our “democracy” paid for by corporations. Our democracy needs major help NOW before it is too late and we end up like some other unfortunate countries…

  2. Anyone could see that “calm down John” was premeditated, intended to find a launching platform for a campaign Ms Clark and her people had clearly set out well before anyone said good morning. I’m very biased, I admit, but mansplaining from anyone makes me want to set my hair on fire and Horgan wasn’t doing it. Challenging someone to tell the truth isn’t mansplaining.

  3. John Fryer // April 22, 2017 at 5:55 AM // Reply

    Well that not YHE way that it seemed to me. Horgan was the clear winner. He made many,many points of substance. He demonstrated way more knowledge about the detail of the issues than did Clark. And he showed passion that he really cared about the policies desperately needed by so many British Columbians. Clark had no real answers and relied heavily on tired old cliches and repeated references to her role as a mother as if that somehow made her a better person. No way did she win this leader’s debate but she did help us all see and hear that John Horgan will make a great premier for all of us.

  4. You are sure biased.Clark interrupted Horgan just as much talking over him ,then her constant flipping through her binder of talking points .Horgan deserves credit for not loosing it completely sitting beside someone who constantly lies ,offers alternative facts and misinformation about him and what he proposes.

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