Saturday, November 01, 2008

Maybe A Good Thing?

I was out of the loop yesterday, but I caught a radio piece in the morning, relating to Bob Rae possibly taking a pass on the Liberal leadership. Since then, I read this morning that Rae will run, the rumors "bullshit", let the games begin. Anyways, I was doing the mental math prior to hearing Rae would run, and I came to a quick conclusion- maybe this was good thing?

I confess, I'm having a hard time getting particularly excited about this leadership race. My reasoning, this leadership race will be a grand distraction, in terms of fundraising, party "renewal", policy development, unity, effective opposition, basically all the ingredients required to get this party back on course. With that in mind, Rae taking a pass was entirely attractive in one sense. Eliminate Rae, then it's pretty much an Ignatieff coronation. That doesn't translate to an endorsement of Ignatieff, but within that reality, people could move forward with some basic assumptions, our collective energy placed where it needs to be, straight away, the leadership race almost a sideline.

I have no empirical evidence or "insider" information to support this thesis, but my instincts tell me that Ignatieff will be hard to beat in this leadership race. It would appear, Iggy has substantial backroom support, as well as a potent grassroots network throughout the country. I honestly don't see a Manley bid seriously challenging Ignatieff, and LeBlanc's run looks more like a future audition, than serious contender. That effectively leaves Rae as the only credible alternative, so his rumored exit had appeal, because it would short-circuit a six months navel gazing exercise, that undercuts the real issues at hand. Early days, but it's hard to see Rae actually winning, because the discussion will invariably turn to the economy as the central question moving forward, Rae's baggage biblical in scope. That reality, brings us back to Iggy again, but we only arrive there after a torturous, and inevitably divisive, process.

It's a mute point now, Rae will run, but in the grand scheme, part of me wishes the rumors true. In terms of the Liberal Party, a neutered leadership race, with eventually victor assumptions, is probably the best case scenario. But, alas...

38 comments:

bigcitylib said...

I'm not so sure about Rae's "baggage". This seemed to be an issue last time out that faded in importance as the race progressed. Obviously the Tories will have their attack ads, but by next year this country will be running a deficit and so that may blunt alot of the impact. (Pot/Kettle. That sort of thing)

PS. Remember last time out Iggy tried to give the impression of inevitability...and then the gaffes started.

Steve V said...

bcl

If you have a government soft on the economy, do you run someone who has a dubious pedigree to challenge credibly?

Last time out, the economy was rolling, I expect this time, who can counter the Cons mismanagement a primary consideration. Rae's a tough sell.

You're right about the campaign, a lot can happen.

whopitulia said...

You're talking about short term gain for long term pain. The Paul Martin coronation only helped to reinforce the notion of the Liberal elite, culture of entitlement, out of tough with Canadians. A leadership race with credible challengers to Iggy will force Iggy to prove his worth and hopefully provide a forum for new ideas to be generated. So far all we're seeing are the usual dirty tricks leading up to the leadership race, attempts to intimidate Bob Rae out of the race just reflects badly on the party to the world outside and gives Mr. Rae perhaps unintended sympathy and appeal.

Mushroom said...

"If you have a government soft on the economy, do you run someone who has a dubious pedigree to challenge credibly?"

Flaherty buggies will be on the streets of Guelph within the next few months. Laissez-faire capitalism is dead, and Bob Rae can kill it once and for all.

What the Canadian economy needs is a fiscal stimulus package led by major government spending. I would recommend that Rae puts a John Baird-style workfare scheme that does NOT punish crack-addicted single mothers.

A Rae campaign would succeed if the Grits goad the Harper Cons into a false sense of security and gives them NO option but to implement Harris-like policy in Ontario. This means highlighting the positives of Rae days and forcing Harper to defend the indefensible.

Anonymous said...

Sigh!
I just can't see Rae winning this thing. And honestly, I'm not sure that I'd bother voting for him in a General Election, and I like him, as a person! But at the end of the day I'm not comfortable putting him in charge of the books. And when PM Steve will be busy running up a big deficit, it will be a “Rae did it too” election. Deficit Harper vs. Deficit Rae, Black Cats vs. White Cats.
I wish that he’d sat this out.

I'm thinking like Steve here, get this over with and get down to the real work. raise money, get reforms in place that engage the grassroots, build some credible policy, and get into the House and do the job that Canadian’s pay our party to do!. If this is to be an Iggy vs. Rae fight, it’s hard to imagine that that they have anything new to say to us. Now if Manley jumps in, that may change things a bit.

And a first step would be to scale back the convention and show that we won’t waste money on a big fancy show. Have the convention, but find a way to do it and the entire Leadership race on the cheap.
Make in affordable and demonstrate that in tough times we can tighten our belts like real people do. You know the ones with mortgages to pay and people who's jobs are on the line. The VOTERS!
Diana

liberazzi said...

I think Rae is an awesome politician and he probably could get over the Ontario thing with his savy. However, I too was of the same mind thinking that without Rae we could basically crown Iggy and get onto the business at hand, with Leblanc and Mcguinty getting some air time in btw. Neither a coronation or a tight race propelled the Libs, so like I have said before you need four solid pillars for success:
1. Leadership
2. Fundraising
3. Policy
4. Strong local organizations

A strong leader will help with fundraising and creating strong local organizations. However, the members still need a real say on policy. I am looking for a leader that will be able to fulfill all of these four atributes.

Back to the race, I am intrigued with regards to Cauchon, but another french Liberal leader would elicit groans throughout the country. Coderre needs to stop fooling himself and get lost. Manley zzzzzzzzz. Apparently, the fundraising rules are going to have a strong factor in determining which potential candidate will be entering the race.

Anonymous said...

With the Obama candidacy, a legitimate issue about leadership has been raised: temperament. Obama has the temperament needed for these times. I submit Bob Rae also does, not sure about his competitors.

RuralSandi said...

The dirty tricks are not coming from the Ignatieff camp apparently. The Globe confirmed the rumour was from Dominic LeBlanc's camp.

I just can't get excited by Bob Rae and the people that do vote (old enough to remember the Rae Days) will not vote for him. He did well in his riding - but that riding is totally Liberal anyway. In HofC, QP - the Harper gang continually attacked Rae on his stint as Premier of Ontario. That package is ready and raring to go.

Ignatieff made gaffes, yes, but he had improved dramatically. He's obviously a quick learner and so far he's the only one that seems to be able to get under Harper's skin.

And, I'm concerned about the Chretien, Power Corp. and his brother (John Rae, exec in Power Corp.) being pulling the strings. We need to severe from that nonsense.

Ruby Dhalla, Martha Hall Finlay -good candidates - "down the road". They both need more experience. And, the judgment factor - Finlay walked over a supported and continually sucked p to Dion.

liberazzi said...

Apparently, the last convention generated a profit.

I would like to see a convention in early March with only a handful of candidates. It doesnt seem that the committee will not bend on the delegate thing, since it was voted on in the last convention.

liberazzi said...

To be fair to Rae, the NDP fluked into power in 1990 right in the midst of a deep recession. Moreover, he had a very inexperienced team behind him. It is doubtful any govt in that position would not have had a difficult time. Rae in his years out of politics rebuilt his reputation and can longer be called a tourist within the Liberal party. Furthermore, before the Cons rev up the attack machine, lets see if they can avoid a deficit and how they manage the pending recession.

I was not an Iggy fan until I heard his concession speech at his after party. It was a defining moment for him and certainly changed my impression of him. I have also been at a couple of events since that he has spoken and he is a very capable politician. The safe choice is Iggy and I believe he has overcome his so called gaffes since. I believe it is Iggy overzealous supporters and not necessarily the man that turn some people off.

Anonymous said...

"To be fair to Rae, the NDP fluked into power in 1990 right in the midst of a deep recession. Moreover, he had a very inexperienced team behind him. It is doubtful any govt in that position would not have had a difficult time"

Fair enough, but just try to sell that in a sound bite. And the simple fact is, Rae's term happened. And there's not a big enough ad buy in the world to change the past. Rae is choosing to run at the worst possible time. As Premier he was barely competent.

“Rae in his years out of politics rebuilt his reputation"
True, he has rebuilt his reputation on many things, but not on managing a tough economy. He's just not going to be credible, to the people who are old enough to have lived, worked (more often that were OUT of work) in Ontario in those days. These are the people who vote.

Diana

MilitantLiberal said...

I know I don't speak for all Liberals. (Who can? that is like herding cats.) But I'm not the only left leaning Liberal. We can't be completely ignored and we would pull out our own eyeballs before voting for Ignatieff. The guy was wrong about Iraq. How could anyone recover from being that much on the wrong side of history?

bigcitylib said...

ML,

I have the same feelings re Iggy and Iraq (plus the torture thing). But if people can forgive Harper for similar views then maybe that should be water under the bridge. His enviro plan was pretty solid. Right now the big hurtle for me is the gaffe prone thing, and I don't agree that he's overcome that. Where do you think the puffin poop jokes come from in the first place?

Anonymous said...

I'm with BCL on this. Iggy's problem is the gaffe thing. I may have a problem with Iggy & Iraq, but it seems that Iraq is not much of an issue with voters. Go figure.
I think that Iggy is far more likely to win a GE even with his Iraq past, than Rae could with his bad economic/Premier past. Most people vote with their wallets anyway.
On most other issues, I’m on the same page as Iggy. He is a compelling speaker in person, and he has a lot of support within the Party.
So, I'm willing to support him this time, maybe.

Any day now I'm sure that he'll trip over a rake, right after slipping on a banana peel, and hitting himself in the face with a coconut cream pie.
Watch for it!

Diana

MilitantLiberal said...

I think you're right that the average Canadian might be able to get over his position on Iraq but I don't think the average left leaning Liberal can. One of the reasons I'm willing to vote Liberal instead of NDP is that I believe the day old JC stood up in front of the world and said we will not be going to Iraq may have been the greatest day in Canadian history. Iggy would have been in like Flynn.By contrast the worst day in Canadian history was the day Iggy and 24 other traders stood up and extended, along with the war loving Tories the war in Afghanistan. Iggy is by far the best speaker and easily has the most charisma of any of the leadership candidates.In fact I believe he would have the best chance of winning an election for the Liberals. However somethings are more important than winning elections.

Steve V said...

I'm not comfortable with his Iraq position, but let's keep it in context. Ignatieff's view wasn't akin to Bush, he had actually spent extensive time in Iraq, his view was influenced by what he saw on the humanitarian front, what he saw under the Saddam regime. To lump people together, when they reached similar conclusions, for entirely different reasons, is unfair. Was he wrong? Yep. Does that make him the same as Harper and Bush. Not a chance.

As for gaffe's, let's see, but there is no doubt he is more seasoned as a politician, so one can hope.

"Fair", a non-existent word in Canadian politics. What has more resonance, an essay explaining the circumstances, or "Rae days". I think we've learned that soundbites win everytime.

liberazzi said...

So these are the potential candidates liabilities:

Rae - Rae Days
Iggy - gaffe prone
Manley - zzzzz, tory lite?
Kennedy - lack of french, kingmaker, still in debt, capable?
Leblanc - unknown, risky choice
Cauchon - another french leader
Findlay - unknown
Mcguinty - unknown
Coderre - shit disturber

Who's the safest choice?

liberazzi said...

Are we discounting Dryden? Yes, the lack of french and long-winded thing still dogs him. However, he's a rock star wherever he goes, passionate, progressive and has leadership qualities/experience. I think he had the best speech at the convention. Just throwing it out there...

Anonymous said...

Is Goodale out of the picture?

MilitantLiberal said...

I could vote for Dryden.

Manchild said...

Liberals have to get over the Rae "baggage" issue and start taking the offensive. Steven Harper has so much right wing baggage that could be used in soundbite after soundbite. Bob Rae is the perfect one to do it. He's got wit, timing, and is very articulate. I believe he will go for Harper's jugular the very minute he becomes Liberal leader.

Steve V said...

manchild

Do Liberals need to get over it, or VOTERS? I really like Rae, so don't get me wrong, but walk down a street one day in a Ontario town, stop people and mention Bob Rae. Get back to me with the results :) The baggage is real, it just is, and we need to incorporate that into our thinking.

Francesco said...

All the liberals blogging or asking questions on rae's leadership or possibility of becoming a leader of the liberal party should do one thing...go ask the nurses, teachers, doctors, bus drivers, students etc of ontario..and ask them would they vote for bob rae?  The liberal party remains concentrated in toroto and in ontaro and one needs to ask him or herself...will electing Rae improve our chances on in Ontario? i think if you ask ontarions the answer quite clearly is "no"  the citizens of ontario their response is brutal they rightly or wrongly have formed an impression of rae and his negatives rival hillary's negatives in he U.S.....plus we need someone with no baggage..if the worst that iggy has is his support for iraq..hmm... i guess that did not impact harper and if dion voted against the iraq war which he did ..hmmm that really did not help dion....almost one million less canadians voted for the liberal party so if we want to move further to the left people should really think about that!!!

Jerry Prager said...

Put Rae and Harper's Lack of Common Sense Reactionaries side by side and to me Rae comes up looking good, Rae days were good days compared to Harris days. I also agree that while Ignatief was wrong on the Iraq issue, his starting point and end point were different than Bush-Harper. They went for the oil, Iggy went for the people. Of course, that suggests a naivete too, believing that people like Bush could be trusted. But then, unlike me, he actually shares that naivete with a lot of Canadians who took nearly seven years to realize that Bush was nothing more than a gangster.
I suspect it took Iggy less time.
I don't know, both men seem considerably more able than Harper.

Mushroom said...

"Was he wrong? Yep."

No, Iggy wasn't wrong. He took a Blairite position. Iraq can send chemical weapons and attack London, Washington, and Toronto in 45 minutes.

What if Iggy and Manley says as Opposition Leader that Harper did not do enough to help protect the rights of Iranian dissidents? Both these people are good for one thing. Goading Harper into taking more hawkish stance on Afghanistan and Iran. They make Jason Kenney look like a fat puffin!!!

"The baggage is real, it just is, and we need to incorporate that into our thinking."

One thing I know. Bob Rae is not Stephane Dion!!! Do you think that Rae would not respond to attack ads with his own? He will unleash an air war to destroy Baird and Flaherty, especially in Ontario. With Smitherman and Sorbara on his side, there is no way Rae is going to go on a whim and start offering pie-in-the-sky green shifts.

I did not support Rae two years ago. Now it is different. Tougher economic times, must be prepared to defeat Harper at the earliest opportunity. Needing to take Jack Layton's votes back.

Manchild said...

Steve V

What I'm trying to say is that Liberals have to seize the agenda early and never loose momentum. Rae has baggage. Harper has more. Exploit it. Focus on Harper's baggage. Liberals should not let Rae's past get in the way of electing him as leader. Rae is clearly the best attack dog you've got and he will do it effectively and with class. Harper has lots more baggage than Rae and they elected him leader and now he's PM.

Steve V said...

"He will unleash an air war to destroy Baird and Flaherty, especially in Ontario."

Mushroom, with what funds exactly? You honestly don't think the Liberals would have done that with Dion if they had any MONEY?

In_The_Centre said...

Hey, personal perspective

I supported and fundraised for Ignatieff in 2006 and now with McKenna out of the running, I will probably do the same this time around. A lot of the friends I signed up during 2006, non-partisans who are not normally politically active and went off the radar after Dion’s victory, are expressing interest in coming back into the fold

The man has changed considerably and has become much more seasoned and humble. He speaks much more frankly and directly, is less academic in his one on one conversations, and has improved his small talk skills considerably (ie. having a beer and talking about how crappy the Leafs are). The puffin crap is hopefully the last case of his complex mouth

I’ve also heard that at this point, he will have a much more veteran filled campaign team, rather then relying on the same younger, arrogant crowd that turned off a lot of other people in 2006.

So let’s hope he runs a clean, gaffe free campaign!

-ITC

burlivespipe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
burlivespipe said...

In 06 I supported Rae; he fits with my personal left-of-centre views and came across as refreshing, a part of party renewal. But I think my choice now will be taking a different angle, not less principled, but from a stance that we now know who and what our enemies are. Just as Harper's tacking right incrementally, his chops at the Liberal party have been incremental, in some regards. The last election - less about racking up a majority (oh he wanted it, but it needed a complete implosion of Bloc and Liberal support in specific regions) but equally about applying 18 cuts at his main opposition. And just like he expected, Dion without the caucus support, it has thrown us into another leadership race. So I will listen to Ignatieff, Rae and the others but will be considering elements that weren't so obviously on the radar last time, like a) depth of grass roots support, b) caucus and brain trust support, c) fund raising abilities, and d) toughness and agility. Yes, ideas will trump all. But we need someone who can withstand a pummelling - I believe it will be Layton who will be the pointman to an Iggy-led party, and can he/we handle that? Can Rae's experience be turned into a positive, when Harper will be swinging it like an axe? Who will be the candidate who can step forward and present our ideas clearly, and at the same time go on the attack of the others? Unlike Harper, Ignatieff stepped forward and tried to make amends with his support of the Iraq invasion. It likely won't fly with dyed-in-the-wool Ndpers, but we weren't going to get their votes anyways. Who is best to implement a fundraising answer to our current dilemma, who can take advantage of what we can learn from the democrats down south but also inspire the team here at home?
It's a lot of sifting, but if its the same candidates (for the most part) as last time, I'm currently leaning to Ignatieff at least for now.

Mushroom said...

"with what funds exactly? You honestly don't think the Liberals would have done that with Dion if they had any MONEY?"

Money will be a problem. But look who can fundraise the easiest. Rae cleaned his debts out the easiest. So he may rally the rank and file more easier than Dion.

Who knows. The party may be damaged goods if we still continue to trail the NDP in attracting donors. Thomas Mulcair as the next French Canadian PM, anyone???

liberazzi said...

Apparently, Kennedy is ready to announce and plans to be the "renewal" candidate. I think it is going to be an interesting race with some distinct choices. I just hope it is a respectful campaign. We do not need to give the CPC ammunition like last time.

Steve V said...

I'm a bit surprised to hear the Kennedy angle. That certainly changes the dynamics drastically.

Mushroom said...

"Apparently, Kennedy is ready to announce and plans to be the "renewal" candidate."

As a Kennedy supporter the last time, I don't want him to say the same spiel once more. He has to be better this time before I can be convinced.

liberazzi said...

So this is the way it is beginning to shape up:

Rae/Iggy - establishment candidates
Leblanc/Kennedy - renewal candidates
Manley - "conservative" candidate (I hope he stays out)

Findlay or Bennett basically need to run or its going to look like the old boys network. Cauchon should run otherwise Quebec is not going to be represented.

I am wondering if Mcguinty has the potential to come up the middle?

Unfortunately, it might be a large field, which will divide up the fundraising.

Steve V said...

mushroom

The only thing, NOTHING Kennedy proposed was adopted, so the same spiel is still relevant.

Demosthenes said...

The problem is not the topline numbers of positive/negative/unsure, the problem is where these guys stand among Liberal/NDP/Green switchers vs. Liberal/Conservative switchers.

If Ignatieff wants to keep from bleeding out on his left side, he's going to have to play more of a progressive than he has to date. And he doesn't seem inclined to.

Rae has the same problem on the right side, though that side appears less volatile.

Möbius said...

It's a mute point now, Rae will run

"Moot point" not mute point.

Similar idea, though.

Can't stand Rae at all, too bad Manley is backing out.