Bob Rae is out for the Liberal leadership, making the announcement at a very fascinating press conference. I think the rationale for not running is a complicated equation. But, the top line conclusion will congratulate Rae for a classy exit, which demonstrated all the attributes that made him compelling in the first place.
My no "bullshit" take on Rae's decision is that he came to this place just recently, fully intending to run, but reacting to recent developments. I believe the prospects of Trudeau jumping into the race- a reality I now think almost certain- gave additional pause. Spend a few moments digesting the generational divide, the obvious optics, as well as the very real potential of being completely over run and a man of wisdom can foresee the choppy seas. Although not privy to the internal machinations of operatives, the "pressure" on Trudeau must also include some former Rae fans. In other words, there does seems some momentum away from Rae of late, a far cry from the love in feel of only a few months ago. As an aside, I also don't think Rae was ever a "shoo-in" to win, even without Trudeau, there was a very large sense of the need for fresh blood, as well as baggage which will never evaporate.
Rae mentioned "social media" again today, which he has in the past many times. The reference was made in the context of the glowing reviews he is receiving today, contrasted with the maelstrom we saw last week. Readers of this blog know I'm not one to overstate the influence of social media, blogs, it is what it is and no one should delude themselves as to "reach" just quite yet. That said, the negative reaction from rank and file Liberals, as well as some more prominent people, clearly had an influence on Rae. Social media can play a role in a more narrow discussion amongst partisans in particular. Rather than that visceral reaction on social media being a bad thing, in fact it allowed average supporters to express their view of decisions being made elsewhere. The "push back" Rae received was very much grassroots in origin, agree or disagree, I see it as a net plus for egalitarianism that views can be expressed and then incorporated by elites. The more input the better and if this injection gave Rae pause, I say it allowed for him to see the world outside the Ottawa bubble and glad handers.
I believe Rae very much intended to run, but I think he is politically shrewd enough to see that he had become a divisive figure within the leadership frame. I do applaud Rae for having the capacity to see beyond simple aspiration, the bonus for him now he leaves the stage appearing the great statesman. Rae realized his run wasn't "good for the party", and I'm sure this was a painful conclusion. Bob Rae is very much good for the Liberal Party, and many like myself can separate concerns about pledges, disadvantages and the larger contributions he makes every day. Liberals will be well served to have Rae minding the store while the leadership race distracts, in many respects he is the greatest of all Parliamentarians.
Rae's decision today is a sober realization that many Liberals have long term memories, the mood within the party is looking forward and that former desires are perhaps no longer practically available. I look forward to his performances in Ottawa and his commentary on important issues, as Rae remains a strong advocate for the just society many of us Liberals seek.