Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sour Grapes

I keep hearing and reading this quote this morning:
"It's clear there were a lot of forces at play. (People) were challenged by the courage of Michael's ideas," said Paul Zed, a New Brunswick MP and Ignatieff supporter.

He attacked Kennedy, saying, "To preach party renewal and to preach openness and then sign this separate backroom deal I think is kind of a little bit of jarring with the things he said he represented."

I would like Mr. Zed to point to one campaign that wasn't working the phones, conducting clandestine meetings, talking in the backrooms, these past weeks? Everyone knew the dynamics heading into the convention, so Gerard had ample time to consider who he felt was the best choice beyond himself. Dryden made that calculation, Brison made that calculation, etc, etc. I don't see any hypocrisy in preaching renewal and a new direction, then aligning yourself with another candidate that you think best represents that ideal.

Apparently, the Ignatieff camp had twenty people in a room tracking every delegate at the convention. Most pundits have concluded that it was the slickest organization they had ever seen. And yet, no one moved to Ignatieff? Can we toss aside our cynical calculations for a brief second and actually entertain the notion that Kennedy made a ethical choice, entirely consistent with his campaign theme.? I don't buy the "support the francophone" to guarantee a future chance as anglophone.

It was an open convention from the outset. Kennedy was in position to spoil the frontrunner's dream because Liberals had given him substantial support. There is no hypocrisy in deciding to support another candidate's direction, in fact, listening to Kennedy throughout, where else could he have gone? Did Rae even utter the word "renewal"? Is there any way to reconcile the philosophical chasm between the Kennedy policies and Ignatieff? I would hope there is no lingering bitterness towards Kennedy, as the man who ruined the frontrunners party, because ultimately he did what every delegate and candidate did, move where his moral compass took him. It just so happened that his decision had the most impact.


Yappa said...

Hmmm. I think you may be rewriting history a little bit. When Kennedy and Dion made the deal, Kennedy was ahead of Dion, and probably thought that he'd be the one to benefit from it. Kennedy's Ontario campaign organizer went around the hall just before the second ballot results telling the media about the secret deal and making it very clear that whichever of the two of them had no chance would back out and support the other.

For both of them, it was the only chance of winning. They were allies because they were the third and fourth place candidates. I'm not blaming them, but let's not start calling it the result of a "moral compass".

Steve V said...

I believe Kennedy genuinely felt comfortable in supporting Dion. And, as for re-writing history, let's not forget that everyone was moving to Rae, which made Kennedy's choice quite risky. If you review how Kennedy conducted himself throughout this campaign, then it lends itself to the view that he choose Dion because he believed it, within the context of the realities of the campaigns.

knb said...

I think you're wrong yappa. Kennedy didn't have to move when he did and by his explanation sought out the one other candidate who best matched his vision of where he wanted the party to go.

If we were speaking of some other politician, I might buy what you're saying. Kennedy has integrity.

Steve, I imagine Dion has his work cut out for him, however once emotions cool, any such talk about Kennedy will level out. If there are some of the "old" group who are disgruntled, perhaps they'll leave and that won't be so bad.

Steve V said...


That is a good point, Kennedy didn't have to move, he could have stayed on one more ballot.

Let's not forget that is was Kennedy who resisted criticizing Ignatieff in the summer, in fact he defended him, when political self-interest would have suggested he could score points. Volpe also acknowledged that Gerard was the only one to come to his defense during the allegations. Did Kennedy say anything negative about anyone, in any of the debates? All the criticism seems to frame a slick political opportunist, but I see ample evidence to suggest otherwise.

knb said...

You're right Steve. Kennedy is pricipled and honest. Those who would suggest otherwise, don't know him.

We live in cynical times don't we? Integrity and politician don't seem to be two words that people can put together.

I won't deny for an instant that he isn't a politician, he is, but his entire career has been built on integrity.

He and Dion fit well in that context and so do many of the other candidates.

Anonymous said...

The thing about Iggy fans is that they don't understand Kennedy and Dion supporters. And they don't care to.

Kennedy moving to Dion was a gain of ONE VOTE. The 95% or so Kennedy delegates that went to Dion was offered what?

Dion finished third in the 2nd ballot. If Kennedy's priorities was something for himself, wouldn't it make more sense to back the front runners than the last place dark horse?

Yappa said...

Just before the second ballot results were announced, the Kennedy Ontario organizer announced that there was a weeks-old deal between Kennedy and Dion and that the deal was that whoever was going to lose would have to support the other. Once the 2nd ballot results came out, it was clear that Kennedy would be knocked out on the next ballot - he would have to go through with the deal. There was a long delay and I thought Kennedy was going to reneg, but then it turned out that he didn't announce he was pulling out - we first knew it when the third ballot candidates were announced and he wasn't on the ballot. (Then he announced he was supporting Dion.) The reason for this timing, I am guessing, was to make it impossible for Rae and Ignatieff to react by supporting one or the other. It was not risky at all for Kennedy to do this - he and Dion, as 3rd and 4th place candidates, had enough strength to pull it off, as long as they got the timing right.

I'm not arguing this out of sour grapes. I'm arguing it because the Dion organizers better remember that most Liberals didn't support him, and they better do some pretty serious reaching out. Dion didn't win the hearts and minds of delegates - he was not even the second choice of most people. He won a good fight with some very smart politicking. I'm very happy with the outcome of Dion winning, but we need to bring the party together, rebuild, and win the next election - not pretend things that aren't so.

Anonymous said...

The combined forces of Kennedy and Dion represents the best of both worlds for the grassroots of the party. My husband is a Liberal member and he couldn't decide between Dion and Kennedy so he gave money to both campaigns and when he went to vote for delgates he split his votes between the two. Clearly a lot of delegates felt the same way. I trust Gerard Kennedy's instincts. He supported the best of the candidates on offer and his continued participation in the party wil be of great value. I look forward to seeing what happens in the days ahead.

Steve V said...


"I'm arguing it because the Dion organizers better remember that most Liberals didn't support him, and they better do some pretty serious reaching out. Dion didn't win the hearts and minds of delegates - he was not even the second choice of most people."

Huh? Actually he was the second choice of most people, as evidenced by every poll and actual results. "Most" Liberals didn't support anyone, hence the open convention.

Yappa said...

To Steve V -

You're right. Dion was a lot of people's second choice. When I wrote that I was thinking of all the candidates who went to Rae.

I think Kennedy was fairly unique in that he had a young, very loyal following who were more likely to follow him than the supporters of the other candidates.

Still, if he hadn't dropped out at just the moment he did (in the announcement of the third ballot candidate list, when it was too late for Rae and Ignatieff to react), who knows what would have happened. It was pretty savvy politics.

Steve V said...


Agreed. If Kennedy didn't dropout when he did, I think Rae wins frankly. Dryden moving to Rae was powerful symbolism, but became irrelevant after Kennedy moved.

One of the biggest ironies of this campaign, Bob Rae the new Liberal was the insider, backroom choice.

Charlie Barnard said...

Yappa what you are saying is indicative of a devisive Ignatieff supporter. Your guy lost, get over it. It was speculated a month ago that Kennedy might go to Dion, or the other way around, because they seemed to share very similar views of the future of the liberal party. If Kennedy was trying to score political points it would have made infinitely more sense to go to Ignatieff or Rae. Further more, Zed's comments are baseless and devisive, and he should be ashamed of himself. Now that Dion has won, maybe he can leave the liberal party and go pout somewhere else. Good riddance I say.

Anonymous said...

Yappa, your fantasy of a Rae/Ignatieff tie up is just that, a fantasy. If Rae was deprived of moving to Ignatieff by Kennedy's manuevering, then what stopped him from doing so in the final ballot? The numbers were still there for such a marriage.

Yappa said...

To Charlie Barnard -

I'm not an Ignatieff supporter, never was. I supported Rae, but all along I said that I'd be happy with Rae, Ignatieff or Dion.

I don't know if you mean to be as nasty as you come off, but you might want to try to tone it down a bit. It's bad for the party.

And now (to everyone's relief?), I'm outta here! Thanks for the discussion.

Miles Lunn said...

I think the Kennedy-Dion deal was struck since both realized each of them were less polarizing than either Ignatieff or Rae. The worse thing the Liberals can have going into the next election is a divided party. No matter who we choose we would have some sour grapes, but I think far fewer than he we chosen Ignatieff or Rae. For all those saying Dion is unelectable in Quebec and the West, I say just watch, he will prove them wrong at least in Quebec and British Columbia.

Steve V said...

"No matter who we choose we would have some sour grapes, but I think far fewer than he we chosen Ignatieff or Rae."

If unity, and minimal sour grapes is your measure, then Dion is by far the most attractive of the three.

Anonymous said...

Yappa you are wrong.
I was a Kennedy delegate and his delegates were right across the age spectrum. It was not just some youth vote.
Seniors, youth, women and men all believed in Kennedy, a man of integrity and principle. It would not matter what place Dion was in. Kennedy felt the most comfortable supporting Dion compared to Rae and Iggy-that is a fact. He has the right to choose whoever he wants without being accused of "deals". There was no hard deal. This was a principled decision by Kennedy and we supported his decision, giving Dion 93% of our vote.
End of story.

burlivespipe said...

I was a Rae delegate and I am not one to subscribe to what Yappa intimated when he said...
"...a weeks-old deal between Kennedy and Dion and that the deal was that whoever was going to lose would have to support the other..."
The 2 candidates came to admire each other's platforms and also saw similarities between their goals -- and enough non-similarities between the two front runners. I think when Dryden dropped out and moved to Rae, Kennedy saw that his best chance to leap past Dion was done -- he attended the Dryden event the night before, hoping to swing Ken-D behind him.
Ignatieff people have to look at their team -- why did they not lock up another candidate until they got Brison on the last round? If Kennedy and Dion purposely waited until the last minute to pull their deal, good on them. That's the kind of strategic work we'll need to beat lyin' and schemin' Harpor.
Altho I still think Bob was the best man for the job, we didn't convince enuf people to that same conclusion. Everything that occurred Saturday was great politics and great theatre, and honestly I believe will be for the best of the party in the long run.

Steve V said...


Well said! I saw a clip of Kennedy at Dryden's get together late Friday. Dryden looked uncomfortable with Kennedy.