Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Wise Strategy

Some people are shaking their heads, wondering why Bob Rae would make the economy the focal point of his leadership run. What can be served by highlighting an area, where the resume is dicey to say the least? Why draw attention to your weak point?

I actually think it's a pretty shrewd strategy, because it denotes a recognition of the primary challenge for Rae's bid. Rae's economic baggage isn't going to disappear, if he were to focus on other issues, play up his strengths. That approach isn't feasible in this particular climate, the economy is center-stage, Rae can't possibly skirt around it, so far better to embrace the issue as a key theme. Bob Rae makes the economy the focal point, or the economy itself makes it the focal point, better to voluntarily engage.

I have no commentary on whether Rae's strategy will work, any rational observer should have serious doubts. However, I'll give his team credit for correctly recognizing the challenge and embracing it. In this way, at least Rae can try to argue his case in a proactive way, rather than reacting to negative perceptions. If Rae wants to win over weary Liberals, particularly in Ontario, his is wise to address his legacy, he must allay some fears, he must give clear signals that he has a plan moving forward. Charisma and eloquence, stature and character, will only take Rae so far, there's an elephant in the room, foolish to pretend it isn't there.

Bob Rae essentially has to transform himself, he must add a new chapter to pad the past negatives. What might seem odd, is really the only course for Rae, like it or not, how people see him in relationship to the economy is a bottomline consideration. The gradient is steep, but at least Rae looks like he's ready to embark with the proper footwear. There is really no choice for Bob Rae, economy, economy, with an added dose of some economy. Everyday, everywhere, it's Rae's only choice, what that says about his chances, I'll leave for another day.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Disagree with you. On this issue voters will always prefer someone without his record, whether that be Iggy or Harper. And he can't run against Iggy on experience. Not after Obama.

He's toast.

Blues Clair said...

anon, Iggy ain't Obama.

burlivespipe said...

But Harper is R Milhouse Nixon...

Steve V said...

anon

Not sure why you disagree? Did I say it would work? It's just a simple recognition of Rae's baggage, and it's better to take it head on, than pretend it isn't there.

Gayle said...

Look! Another anon, opining about Rae v. Iggy.

How suprising...

MilitantLiberal said...

"But Harper is R Milhouse Nixon..."

What an insult to Nixon.

gina said...

Rae was in good form on the Mike Duffy show earlier this week. He was in command of the economic facts confronting us. The contrast with Harper is striking. Harper sticks Flaherty out there to float crazy ideas which Harper then disavows. With this style of "leadership", Rae will look better each day.

Anonymous said...

Its quite amusing to see all these mainstream media types (esp. the Toronto Star) suddenly giving us this revionist view of Rae as premier of Ontario.

Back when Rae was running for re-election as an NDP Premier in 1995 - I don't recall any of these people being even remotely charitable to him when it came to his economic record. its like as long as Rae was affiliated with the NDP - all these Toronto Star/CBC/Globe and Mail types regarded him as the devil incarnate - now that he's is a Liberal - all his past sins have miraculously vanished and suddenly we were so wrong not to have re-elected him in '95?

olaf said...

I'd say you're right Steve. It's not like Rae would be able to duck and dodge the economy question. This won't be a minor side issue, it will be the issue. No getting around it, might as well dive right in and go for broke.

Steve V said...

anon

I have NO idea what you're blabbering on about. Almost everything I've read, columnists included, bring up his past record ad nauseum. You sound like the typical no-mind Con troll, completely detached from reality.

Ask Olaf about the "Liberal media" ;)

William said...

In order for Rae to make the economy his strength he will need to come up with a policy that is as powerful as the green shift but less complicated.

Something along the lines of Canada ending ts role of supplier of raw resources to the world and using those resources to produce semi-finished and finished products. Want wood to build houses? We will sell you complete precut home kits. Want copper or any other metal? we will sell you wire, sheet, plate or any other type of metal you need. Need gasoline, diesel or home heating fuel? we will refine it and ship it to you.

Whichever leader or leadership hopefull that can come up with a similar powerfull policy like that will be the winner of the next election

Anonymous said...

"Canada ending ts role of supplier of raw resources to the world and using those resources to produce semi-finished and finished products."

Canadian politicians have been promising that for about 100 years. If that is the focus of Bob Rae's economic policy - my response would that Sir Wilfrid Laurier thought of all that in 1896.

It's not that I disagree with the idea - but its hardly original. That's what i call a "motherhood issue". Besides primary industry is already a smaller part of our economy that ever before - we are now mainly dependent on the service sector.

William said...

ANON

You obviously missed the whole point and never read the last sentence. The point is that unless you are prepared to provide people with a real plan of hope and change you end up looking like the Harper circus that doesn't understand what is happening, has no clue how to deal with rapid changes and most importantly absolutely no plan on how to move the Canadian economy into the recovery phase.

If Bob Rae doesn't have a visionary stance on the economy that people across Canada can buy into then at least he chose the hill he will die on.

Mark Dowling said...

the perceived disadvantage for Rae is that "he's been there before and look what happened" but that is part of his advantage - *he's been there before*, at least at provincial level. The one thing people might understand is that he learned from his experience - if he can find a way to market that to the Liberal delegates.

Anonymous said...

I'm still not quite sure just what Bob Rae learned from his experience in Ontario. If he wants to say that (in contrast to Harper) he learned that in a recession you need to keep spending and expanding the role of government etc... then it sounds to me like he still believes what he believed when he was in the NDP - in which case it isn't clear why he ever switched parties.

On the other hand, if what he learned was the need to balance budgets at all cost and cut spending and declaring war on public sector unions - and that he should have done all those things as soon as he took power in 1990 instead of waiting three years - well then his economic policy prescription sounds identical to what Harper and Flaherty stand for.

Rae is good at giving platudinous soapbox speeches - but i have read his books and opinion pieces and so far all I can glean about him is the he has some vague belief that "people should be nicer to one another".

delegate said...

At the debate this weekend which Rae missed, there were NO questions on how the leaders would deal with economic issues. I know it's early but they should have been asked there basic philosophies at least.