In an era when just about every politician with ambition boasts of a vision, a blueprint for transformative change, a new way of doing politics, Rae dismisses all that as unimportant. "It's not a campaign about ideas," he told Maclean's. "You're electing a leader, you're not electing an agenda."
Rae is betting his experience and persona, rather than his platform, will win this for him. He's satisfied to get party members feeling comfortable with him, unlike his key rivals, who are hoping to excite them
Speak for yourself Bob, I'm electing a leader with an agenda.
Policy as appendage:
Rae's rhetoric is restrained and his policy message often comes across as an afterthought. He has a platform, of course...
Yet he's remarkably blunt in declaring that all this is really beside the real point. Choosing a leader isn't about ideas, he declares, as much as finding "a person you're comfortable with." His hope for a second political life rests on selling himself as a moderate guy who has seen it all and knows better than to make dumb mistakes.
You can't fault Rae for leaning on his experience, afterall it's his greatest asset, although controversial. Rae is magnetic, armed with charisma and eloquence that serves him well. However, I am starting to sense a cult of personality aspect to his approach that is frankly a complete turnoff. The Liberal Party desperately needs renewal, which can only be achieved by an agenda that offers relevance. Any candidate who doesn't place policy as primary essentially endorses a philosophy that puts leader over leadership. Did people elect Stephen Harper because they were "comfortable" with him? Have the NDP increased their percentages because people bond with Jack Layton? No, it's the agenda stupid.
I like Bob Rae. However, I see his campaign as increasingly paternal, decidedly insider and overwhelmingly reliant on superficial attraction to sell. Policy as an "afterthought" is a disturbing tactic. The strategy may be a function of Rae's preference to avoid his record, but if that is fact it suggests we are rightfully wary. The Rae approach is diametrically opposed to the reasoning that led me to join the Liberal Party. Chretien and Martin both had experience and charisma in spades. What ultimately unraveled both, and the party with it, a decided lack of core ideas and a coherent agenda that people could embrace. Bob Rae may be comfortable with the status quo, I'm not. The recent endorsements, the scent of the old guard, the persona preference all lead me to think Bob Rae is now the establishment candidate. Newsflash, Canadians have overwhelming rejected this Party and would have done it sooner had the Liberals not benefited from others divisions. I'm not "comfortable" with anything, Bob Rae seems all too cozy with it all.
As an aside, if anyone feels compelled to call this a partisan attack, you are welcome to read any of the glowing posts I have written about Rae in the past.