He has done a lot of good for himself in his handling of the Gaza crisis, taking a firm line in support of Israel and letting the left wing of the party know that the days of shallow posturing are over. In doing so he risks alienating important elements of the party, but it's the sort of strong-minded decision-making that won Stephen Harper respect from voters, even those not disposed to admiring Tories.
But not under Michael Ignatieff. Notwithstanding his own rhetorical toadying to Israel's critics in 2006, he's taken a firm pro-Israel line in the Gaza conflict....The Kay column is particularly nonsensical, because it presents a false choice between unequivocal support for Israel and the far left, Sid Ryan routine. How anyone can credibly posit such a simplistic choice, concerning such a complex issue, escapes me, but it is a black and white world for ideologues I suppose.
This is more than just a stirring demonstration of moral clarity. It is also smart politics...
Ignatieff is signalling that a well-informed adult is now firmly in command.
I would argue, it's a worrying development that NP is lavishing praise, because frankly it appeals to a demographic which is really weak terrain for the Liberals. The argument that this policy speaks to the "center" is wrong, a one-sided perspective appeals to the right (not withstanding Jewish support, which does have electoral consequence) a subset which is firmly in the pocket of the Conservatives. The feverish hawk vote is the Conservative base, you see no argument or discussion within this group (see BT's for a practical example), it's just knee jerk support, based on ideology. Only a fool entertains the notion that a firm position can realistically siphon off this support, the Liberals might earn "respect", but the votes will never come.
The Liberals need to appeal to the center, the mainstream view of this conflict, which largely supports one view or another, with caveats for dual responsibility. Eliminate the far left, because that isn't fertile ground, but don't alienate the majority view, in some non-starter pursuit of the Conservative base. The fact the NP thinks you're bang on, means your probably out of step from where you need to be.
I understand the impetus for the "firm" position, because you can't view Ignatieff's position in isolation. There is no question, that past musings during the Lebanon conflict cost Ignatieff politically, it spoke to a lack of seasoning, a bumbling quality that was counter-productive. Fast forward to today, and you can see how handlers wanted to avoid a repeat, a desire to look resolute and solid. Couple that fact, with the usual heat from the right, to try and paint the Liberal Party as soft on terror, anti-Israel, and Ignatieff's "reaction" is seen in a better light. Not a statement on correctness, but just some recognition of the environment within.
The Liberal Party should just ignore the 20-25% of voters that make up the Conservative core, just as they should ignore the other side, equally one-sided, lacking any sense of nuance, far too cut and dry for a serious read. I could care less what Ezra Levant thinks, or a newspaper with an agenda, it's not our audience, it's irrelevant to our thought process. Largely parroting the Harper view might win you temporary praise from entities that will never support you in the end, but it isn't a sound recipe for electoral success. It is also pure folly to alienate part of your own base, as you appeal to the unattainable.
What we see isn't "smart politics", because if I'm looking to areas of the country where Ignatieff could shine, this position doesn't win many converts, in fact it's somewhat offside. I view the "praise" as a clear signal that you've moved a touch too far, it's not a positive, more correctly concerning.