Sunday, November 22, 2009

Local Boy Makes Good

I must say, the initial vibes coming from the Donolo OLO are encouraging. The musing about flesh on the bone, this idea of "the long game", and maybe most important embracing, rather than running from, Ignatieff's pedigree:
The trouble for the current Liberal leader is that the Tories have successfully turned his resume as an internationally acclaimed intellectual and former Harvard professor into a liability. To hear them tell it, Ignatieff is an elitist academic who's "in it for himself" and "just visiting" Canada after working more than 30 years abroad.

Ignatieff and his inner circle have allowed themselves to be spooked by the Tory attack ads. Consequently, they've "hidden his light under a bushel," playing down Ignatieff's lofty academic and intellectual credentials.

Donolo believes his task is "not so much to package (Ignatieff) as to unpackage him," allow him to be himself and to build on his strength as a thoughtful, insightful deep thinker - the very qualities that initially excited Liberals and evoked comparisons to Trudeau.

The Conservatives successfully "spooked" the Liberals. In using Ignatieff's past to attack, there was an element of "buy in" from our side, that tried to avoid the topic, for the most part. I've always felt that was a mistake, because Ignatieff's pedigree is impressive. Personal opinions aside, it is true, Ignatieff is every bit "an internationally acclaimed intellectual". Success on the international stage, never seemed a net negative from this corner. However, in accepting the Conservative frame as the parameter, the Liberals voluntarily robbed Ignatieff of many of his assets. Everybody knows Ignatieff was gone for a long time, this fact established. The Conservative paint this as a negative, but why do Liberals passively accept?

Many great Canadians have moved abroad. Ignatieff isn't unique, nor are his worldly exploits something Liberals should shy away from, in some misguided patriotic sense. That's the Conservatives game, but there's a counter which we might as well play. We know how the attack ads have defined Ignatieff, so since it's out there, it's completely advantageous to put our own narrative on the table. Ignatieff is a celebrated figure, he's a deep thinker, that commanded respect, that won accolades. Again, people with their own axe to grind aside, being fair, Ignatieff isn't a DUD, just as easily packaged as a treasure.

Canadians suffer from a serious insecurity. We constantly crave attention, we're embarrassing proud of any success a Canadian has abroad, we relish "local boy makes good". Is it really a negative that Ignatieff is an internationally recognized intellectual heavyweight, that his service and talents were a desired commodity on the world stage? You mean he wrote novels that won accolades and respect around the globe? That's a bad thing, that's something to hide in the face of Conservative attack lines? Bullocks. Maybe a few skeletons, Harper has a closet full and he's anything but "regular folk". I would relish a detailed comparison of the respective pedigree's.

Internationalism isn't a dirty word in Canada, never has been. I'm glad to hear Donolo is "game" to tell the other side of the story, rather than unilaterally letting the Conservative smears waft without retort. Ignatieff is an impressive guy, it's about time we let him roam and live in his own skin. Besides, what do you have to lose?

12 comments:

Jymn Parrett said...

Why did it take so long to realize the obvious? The arrival of Donolo. his strategies and skills should have been put to use at least one year ago. Instead of coming in on a positive note, he has a mountain to climb. The party needs to fund-raise like crazy, advertise and talk loudly and forcibly in the papers and on TV. The Cons have for too long hogged the spotlight. Canada MUST have an opposition to the Cons. We haven't had one in a long time. I hope it is not too late for Donolo.

tjeerd said...

It will be a tough go for Donalo.
Speaking for Ontario, Michael Ignatieff has a air about him that is a tough sell outside of Toronto.
Donalo admitted that the UCC graduate is not a Tim Horton's kind of guy. In a way he is an anti-Bill Clinton. The smart thing is not to try and change him, people see through this. Let him keep going to Starbucks.
Harper, while not the warmest personality, conveys a straight middle class image. A bit white bread, but not elitist. Went to public school, paid his own way through college,and every bit as smart as Ignatieff, and a Tim Hortons guy to boot.

Lizt. said...

I thoroughly agree with Donolo. Ignatieff is a worldly intellectual..so was Trudeau, and people should see that he could bring Canada back as a world known democracy, and not be ashamed, anymore, as we are with Harper.

ottlib said...

"The Conservatives successfully "spooked" the Liberals. In using Ignatieff's past to attack, there was an element of "buy in" from our side, that tried to avoid the topic, for the most part."

This has been a problem for the Liberals for years.

Liberals should be ignoring what the Conservatives say about them but instead too many Liberals seem to take what they say to heart. Or at least acknowledge that the Conservatives might have something of a point in their attacks.

It has to stop.

Steve V said...

"a Tim Hortons guy to boot"

No he's not. It's so ridiculous the way the clueless just lap up the talking points. Harper isn't comfortable around people, he rarely mingles, never wades into the crowd, he's actually a social misfit. This "man of the people" crap, good grief. Harper is JUST now starting to grow on people, like a fungi. There's no love, it's an accountant thing.

Mark Francis said...

This scenario has long reminded me of a replay of the Democrats vs. Bush. They were running scared for years.

Tom Flanagan recently stated that he does not understand why Harper has not yet been effectively attacked given how vulnerable he really is.

Both of these issues are connected. The opposition these days has been timid.

But Iggy still needs something to grab us with, other than "Look at how smart I am."

Steve V said...

And, I'll say this about Ignatieff for all the elitist stuff. I've watched him in many a townhall, he's comfortable, personable, no air whatsoever. I've never seen Harper engage like that, he's not even capable. I think it's laughable to suggest Iggy can't connect compared to Harper. Seriously, I know it's a tough slog, but...

Steve V said...

"But Iggy still needs something to grab us with, other than "Look at how smart I am."

There seems to be some recognition, let's see where it goes. I'd suggest letting him be a bit controversial, risk aside. You don't grab attention or form rehashing or pandering.

Mike said...

1) Stephen Harper is not as smart as Ignatieff. What he has going for him is a strong and motivated base and a career as a life long politician (which personally I despise).
2) The liberals have to stop layin the boots to eachother and stick it to Harper. He's done a GD brutal job over the last year, but has managed to come off relatively unscathed. Let's remind voters of all of his broken promises (well most, we don't have enough air time for all of them) and undermine the base (patronage, secrecy, lack of accountability, etc)

WesternGrit said...

Harper "every bit as smart as Ignatieff"??? Holy F. These guys actually believe this crap? Harper barely passed college at the "Conservative friendly" U of C, after dropping out of school in Ontario. Ignatieff is considered (and called) one of the 100 brightest minds on the planet (look it up).

Harper couldn't hold Ignatieff's intellectual "jock".

Heck, he couldn't even carry out his garbage. Harper's success is out of circumstance - not out of some "brilliance of tactics". He is lucky to be where he is. Donolo and crew will be putting in place some changes, and things will start rolling again. Once we're all debating issues, most of this won't even matter...

RuralSandi said...

When did being smart and getting a good education become a negative in Canada?

Do Tories feel that sending your kids to school a waste of time? Do they think that working hard and succeeding wrong?

Steve V said...

"When did being smart and getting a good education become a negative in Canada?"

Exactly.