Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Candor Or Calculation

Aaron Wherry posts a video of Ignatieff's appearance in Kent Bridge Ontario. There's an interesting admission by Ignatieff at the end of the clip, the same type I've heard him make elsewhere (only difference the subset population in question). First, Aaron's comments:
The last 30 seconds or so of this clip might be the most interesting. Is that refreshing candour or dangerous candour? If the latter, why? Because there’s something inherently wrong with what he said or because you’re just not supposed to say that?

Ignatieff breaks the fourth wall, so to speak, every so often—the best bits of his Iraq reassessment did so. My first reaction is almost always something close to the sort of startled confusion that would normally result from hearing a public figure utter a racial epithet in public. But maybe that’s just because I’ve so rarely heard a politician admit that he’s a politician.

I'm curious if people think these overt admissions are refreshing or distasteful.

I admit, the first time I heard Ignatieff categorically reveal the necessity of pandering, I thought it wasn't wise politically. When you say you need a riding, or region, because it's essential to your ambitions, it leaves a politician open to the accusation that the overtures aren't sincere, merely a means to an end to achieve a goal. In this instance- does Ignatieff really care about rural Canadians, their issues and concerns, their sensibilities, or does he feign concern because he's calculated he needs their support to become Prime Minister? Is this from the "soul", or part of the "sell"? We need to craft policy that appeals to rural Canadians, not because it's good policy, but because it will win us votes. That's one interpretation.

Ignatieff has made these type of admissions many times on the road recently. My opinion has evolved somewhat (partially because no one in his team has cautioned him against this recurring them), in that these statements are really nothing more than a statement of the obvious. Every politician since the dawn of time has engaged in these type of calculations, it's actually a essential political dynamic. With that in mind, I find the candor refreshing, because Ignatieff isn't trying to blow smoke up your ass, he's giving you the full disclosure, up front, here it is.

Everyone knows the Liberals have lost rural Canadians, the urban/rural divide more pronounced than ever. Everyone knows that the various parties are constantly jockeying to target their opponent's supposed "base", as they try to improve their own fortunes. Pandering is actually an intrinsic quality within our political system. Is it more palatable for a politician to proceed as though bereft of strategic calculation, merely a authentic presentation, with no consideration? Or, is it a real change to hear somebody offer up the candid, when we all know it's behind the curtain anyways? The more I see, the more I prefer the latter, because really that's the more authentic reality, that's the genuine.


Constant Vigilance said...

I like the candor. At the right point in the debate and played at the right tone it will win votes.

It portrays a level of honesty that Harper,the manufactured man of the people, can't deliver.

sjw said...

I don't find it either pandering or distasteful as he is just stating fact. Politicians need votes to win and there is nothing wrong with that reality being pointed out to us.

Steve V said...

People are already cynical about what politicians say, so at the very least this is different. The fact Ignatieff does this quite often, and none of his handlers have told him to knock it off, makes me think it resonates.

Anonymous said...

I put this in the category of asking for a vote, which I think voters respect. If you're message is simply that you recognize that your party will never manage the nation unless it can provide policies that appeal to segments not inclined to vote for them currently, that is refreshing.

That's what the clip says to me.

I think folks go through periods where they really do want a person on a pedestal - be they a true leader, idealist, even a pure idealogue - who will lead "the fight" (whatever that fight may be for that era).

But I think there are also periods where the public just want a little brutal honesty, and contrary to what some might think, there are times where that wins out.

In the current roller coaster of economic uncertainty, I think it is a good reading that a dose of political honesty may prove a good thing.

Saying, "I recognize I can never become PM unless our policies appeal to farmers" is just a way of saying, "please here us out, we ask you to give us a good hearing."

It would go a far bit better than he strolling into a region where the population is questioning and try to "tell" them what they need from you.

Good call on his part.

I'll comment on the tax portion in your other post.

Anonymous said...

sorry for the sloppy usage and grammar in that last note ;):

your - not you're
hear - not here

typing too fast on a break.

Steve V said...

Been there :)

Joseph, I agree. In these times, cutting through the bull might be appealing. Especially, when your opponent is doing the same thing, but being so entirely disingeniune and transparent, it's almost insulting.