Pray tell, what exactly the Liberals waiting for? What will show them that this is it, and that they must go now? Are they waiting for a signed invitation from Harper? What about flying pigs? Little girls bearing skittles? Mana from Heaven? Hmmm? No one has told us exactly what these cowardly Liberals are waiting for.
You hear the above, in differing forms, across the blogosphere, as the Liberals are reduced to punching bags, everyone taking shots. Justified? Well obviously, from a principled position, hard to spin the abstaining strategy. It's weak, it's an abdication of responsibility, it's a loser politically, it reinforces negative impressions of Dion, it allows others, namely the NDP, to capitalize on the "opposition" vacuum, it is what it is. If anything, Dion's leadership numbers have plummeted further (who would have thought that possible), the Liberals have failed to benefit from Conservative missteps, missteps that have been plentiful. At best, the Conservatives various scandals have temporarily distracted the media from their previous focus on Liberal inaction, but that was never by design, just luck. In other words, this strategy has accomplished nothing, except to strengthen the arguments of detractors.
I've resigned myself to this strategy, of running out the clock on this session of parliament, spending the summer getting ready, with the ultimate goal of forcing an election in the fall. At some point, you tire of beating your head against a wall, the decision was made months ago, best to make the best of a questionable direction.
Despite my feelings, I acknowledge there are other points of view, and while I vehemently disagree, they aren't without merit. I knew the writing was on the wall, when I heard Dryden at a small fundraiser, he articulated the patience strategy in a clear way. Basically, you only get one chance, you go when you at maximum readiness, armed with policy, solid candidates and a clear gameplan. For whatever reason, those close to Dion feel more time is needed to prepare, a summer of consolidation, the Liberals will be stronger come the fall. Important to remember the timing, these decisions were largely made in the aftermath of the latest Quebec Liberal blowup. No one could quibble with the fact that the Quebec wing of the party was anything but ready, in fact it was in disarray. In waiting, it allows time to get candidates, develop some cohesion, even down to simple things like fax machines and office space. You can understand why some people were "spooked", rightly or wrongly.
I saw the latest no show routine of Liberal MP's, as they take a pass on the Conservatives Immigration reforms. It's hard to get worked up anymore, because it doesn't matter, that ship has sailed. Rather, you just wait for it too end, and hope the summer does bring some positives. I've chosen to distract myself from the abstaining, by focusing on some interesting, and yet to be released, policy ideas. In the end, that is what will matter, and it provides a personal motivation to swallow hard. I don't think the Liberals are cowards, I just think people with the sway have committed to a certain strategy, one that believes short-term pain will pay dividends in the end. In my mind, the Liberals checked out of Parliament a couple months ago, I'm just waiting for it too be official, so we can get on with it.