Some people just seem to be a lightning rod for controversy. Such is the case of Michael Ignatieff, who always seems to be "clarifying" his words, while his handlers do damage control. I must say, Ignatieff's penchant for self-inflicted gaffes should give Liberals pause. Afterall, just imagine a quick-paced election campaign, where a few reckless words can command the debate for a week and cause massive momentum shifts. If there is one lesson to be learned from Harper's election campaign, it's that discipline and ability to stay on message are critical components for a successful campaign.
Ignatieff is a dangerous choice, in the sense that he likes to "freelance", which could be refreshing on the one hand, but all too often it reveals a lack of political instinct and experience. The new Liberal leader doesn't enjoy the benefit of a couple years to hone his craft, the election will most likely come quite quickly after the convention. A couple gaffes like we have witnessed recently is the equivalent of a death sentence, and will ensure a Harper victory. I have this eerie feeling that an Ignatieff led Liberals would spend most of its time on the defensive, allowing Harper to pounce on clumsy words.
Supporters point to Ignatieff's anti-political disposition as a plus in a false world of packaging and partisanship. However, this sentiment is still forced to admit the reality that you can't usurp the political arena. Wording is critical, careful consideration vital and an ability to see the landmines essential. Ignatieff's complete failure in reacting to the middle east crisis immediately, coupled with the problematic language in the eventual statements, represent a glaring example of someone who just might not get it. Just because you are an intellectual heavyweight, doesn't preclude a person from lacking basic common sense, nor does it necessarily translate into effective leader.
This leadership campaign is a dry-run for the general election. We scan the policies, but we also see who is quick on their feet, who shows the ability to challenge Harper effectively and who demonstrates sharp political instinct. With all due respect to Ignatieff, from the moment he declared himself a Liberal, the evidence suggests glaring liabilities that constantly re-surface. In my mind, other than the obvious choice of Volpe, Ignatieff has run the worst campaign to date and this fact should give everyone pause before it's too late.