One of the main things that bothered me about Bob Rae's leadership bid, the fact he didn't seem too concerned about policy, there was the belief that he could simply get by on strength of personality. For someone who felt that the Liberal Party needed institutional change, Rae's approach wasn't particularly attractive, he almost seemed the "establishment" candidate, playing it safe, exclusively counting on charisma. I think Rae's campaign really did reach a crescendo at the convention, when he ad libbed his speech, which to my recollection was unheard of.
Fast forward to today, I have nothing but praise for Rae. Since his return to Parliament, he has effectively become a major asset for the Liberals. I mentioned by earlier hesitations about Rae, to put my praise of him now in context, lest it all be reduced to simple partisan preference. Bob Rae currently "owns" Question Period, I've rarely seen somebody command such respect. That was confirmed during Friday's QP, when I watched Rae rise, relaxed and poised, ask his question, which brought an unusual hush, and then sit back in his seat like it was his room. Rae's "presence" is really a thing to watch, he commands respect and his impact is shown by the answer's he receives. Van Loan was quivering in his response, seeming to realize his own inferiority, Rae has the ability to intimidate.
I couldn't find a video for this performance, but I did find a couple of clips to give some indication:
Here and here.
Rae has some prominent baggage from his past, but in terms of sheer force of personality, which is now supported by a sense of wisdom, grace and intellectual eloquence, he has no peer. Bob Rae literally makes the Conservatives uncomfortable, he has on more than one occasion actually commanded enough respect to mute the catcalls. Objectively, pretty impressive stuff.