Monday, September 18, 2006

Michael Vs Ignatieff

Generally, I resist easy comparisons to make a broad point. However, this latest round of Ignatieff clarifications, and the subsequent criticisms, are starting to make me think he might be the Liberal John Kerry. You have to wonder if a general election, with Ignatieff at the helm, will be nothing more than an exercise in defensive politics. Clearly, there must be Conservative strategists grinning from ear to ear at the prospect of Ignatieff as target.

Harper's foreign policy is his achilles heel. The Bush II tag provides powerful symbolism and allows a forceful Liberal rebuttal. However, and I don't mean to suggest Ignatieff is Bushlite, the issue is largely a draw if Ignatieff is the candidate. Much in the way Kerry was forced to constantly defend, clarify and re-defend, I envision a campaign that is forever sidetracked by the past, ample quotes and attempts to spin that only lead to further confusion. Yesterday's leadership debate provided another example of how easily you can get Ignatieff off message. Does anyone believe the Conservatives won't press ten times as hard as fellow Liberals? When does baggage become an albatross?

Mr. Harper, are you concerned that our foreign policy is too closely akin to the Bush agenda? Thanks for the question, but I would remind voters that my opponent has shared many of the same viewpoints, allow me to quote... Foreign affairs will be relegated to a net nothing for the Liberals, while we are forced to argue style points in and amongst the same thesis. Layton will have a field day drawing the distinction, while Ignatieff remains on the defensive.

I don't for one second think Ignatieff is Harper, nor to I believe they come to their conclusions for the same reasons. However, this belief is really irrelevant within an electorate easily influenced by soundbites, sprinkled with easy evidence. You can hear the reporters, you can smell the damage control. Ignatieff's problem is the constant smoldering, that only needs a slight breeze to rekindle the flame. You have to wonder if there is enough superficial distinction for Ignatieff to effectively take the fight to Harper the way it should be, given the agenda. Especially troublesome, foreign affairs is supposed to be Ignatieff's strength in the debate. The question Liberals must ask, is Michael Ignatieff the best person to contrast against Stephen Harper? On this particular file, I can't help but catch a wiff of John Kerry, with similar results. I hope I'm wrong.


Penny said...

You make a very good point, Steve.

One of Dr. Igg's downfalls may turn out to be the fact that he has put so much of his thinking in writing.

He was so very clearly thrown off message yesterday, that I wondered if he could handle the cut and thrust of politics well enough. It's fine to be a thoughtful intellectual, but in election races, you have to be a quick thinker.

The people who did the best at it yesterday were Brison, Rae, Hall Findlay and Fry. Dion is no slouch, either, but he is the unfortunate owner of a funeral director's face and manner.

Steve V said...


The paper trail guarantees plenty of ammunition to keep Ignatieff off balance. The Dion characterization is interesting :)

mezba said...

I agree. I said the same thing sometime back and every day it becomes clearer - Ignatieff is the equivalent of our Kerry. If not for his speaking style and wordiness, then his total lack of dissimilarity with Bush on foreign policy.

Anonymous said...

More shocking than Iggy was Bob Rae. He said in his closing remarks that the choice for Liberal leadership is "not about who has the best ideas."

Does this mean that we should choose someone with the best record? Ooops... that doesn't work.

How about the best service to the party? Oooops ... that doesn't work.

How about the most winnable candidate? Ooooops ... that doesn't work.

OK - What did Bob mean?

Red Tory said...

Excellent observation and a completely valid concern. His waffling was very reminiscent of Kerry, I'm sad to say. Although I understand he appeared on CBC this morning to "clarify" his statements on Iraq. I haven't seen it yet though. But perhaps this illustrates the kind of back-peddling and defensiveness that Ignatieff would engender as you pointed out.

Steve V said...

"Although I understand he appeared on CBC this morning to "clarify" his statements on Iraq."

I guess that is the point. Instead of talking about why the carbon tax is required, Ignatieff is busy clarifying his position on a war that doesn't involve us.

burlivespie said...

Quite cute of 'anonymous' to try and change the channel. Perhaps you are just Too Damn Humble, eh? Grab some balls bud.
It's obvious Ignatieff's achilles heel is a little bruised today but its the kind of practice he'll need if he's going to stay the course and just in case he wins. But, as a Rae guy who won't be supporting candidate Ignatieff (but will unflinchingly support the next leader of the Liberal party), I do give him credit for being someone who seems to provide good knowledge on areas that are not perhaps his proficiency. I like his resolute demeanor during the 'fishery' question, while Bri/den (or is it Dry/son) took turns punting around the Harpor pinata. Ignatieff stayed on topic, made it local and offered up good solutions.
That's what Bob meant. His closing argument wasn't him at his finest, but its true. The ideas are there and the best leader will pool what the fellow candidates have been tossing out and use the best to provide a platform that contrasts to the grim, stutter-step pieces that Harpor aims to dollop out in hopes of a one-shot majority.

Steve V said...


"I do give him credit for being someone who seems to provide good knowledge on areas that are not perhaps his proficiency."

No doubt, I have been impressed with that as well. It just seems odd that his pedigree might be his hinderance.

Anonymous said...

It's because no one will let Iggy alone - they are pounding him. It reminds me of the Swiftboat issue.

Do we really need this kind of campaigning here?

Wait til Harper digs up the dirt on Rae, if he hasn't already. Watch out then. Iggy's is now in the open. Rae's isn't.

Red Tory said...

Anon -- No comparison at all. Iggy isn't being "Switboated" but simply being held to account for his own words and statements from the past.