I'm simply getting more performance capability in French and I have accepted that as a challenge and I'm starting to demonstrate that clearly as something that I can do. Most people in the race are seen to have a drawback or two, that's my principal drawback. It's one that I can fix and people can judge for themselves where others may not be as fortunate."
This statement articulates exactly why I view Kennedy as the most electable, all things being equal. Kennedy's "baggage" isn't necessarily permanent, nor is it firmly entrenched. Kennedy's weakness is something he can "fix", a work in progress. No fair commentator can draw any long term conclusions about Kennedy and Quebec because the dialogue is still in its infancy. The point, Kennedy's "baggage" can easily be shed.
I watched an excellent interview with Bob Rae on the CBC last night. Rae was thoughtful, articulate and his usual charismatic self. The problem, half the interview was spent rehashing the past, in what has become a worrisome pattern. What have you learned Bob? If you could do it over again, what would you do here? Have the mistakes of the past made you wiser? For a party desperate to move forward, the last thing we need is too be sidetracked by conversations about the past, particularly the unpleasant experience of another party. I sincerely worry about the possibility of the next election turning into a referendum on Rae, rather than a discussion about the future of the country. It is important to take the perspective of the opposition, and if I were a Conservative strategist I would relish the opportunity to pour over the Rae record and embarrass him at every turn, making the fight purely defensive. Rae himself has admitted that the media seems obsessed with his past, the question then becomes, why would this reality change in a general, especially with the other side feeding the flames?
Dion's baggage is well-known. While it appeared that Dion was able to re-invent himself somewhat in the summer, the last while has given us painful examples of the old fights blemishing the need for renewal. Do we give the Conservatives a pass on the environment, their chief weakness, by presenting the man who will be forced to defend the abysmal Liberal record. I don't care what any defender says, the record was horrible, too little too late and Canadians largely agree. I envision a scenario where the Tories are allowed a forceful counter to any Dion arguments and the whole issue is lost in the flurry of charges and counter-changes. 13 years, 13 years. Listen to the debates in the Commons, the Tories make no secret of their tactics to neuter the Liberals- and they do it effectively, because the evidence isn't kind. To say, "there were items on my desk ready to sign" is a weak defence and I doubt it will resonate well with anybody. On Quebec, it would appear the whiskers are returning in the French media and the old hurdles will hurt Dion, particularly because he seems proud to mention the names of the vilified.
Ignatieff seems to acquire baggage at an alarming pace. I'm not going to re-hash all the missteps and the fallout, but for a man so new to the political arena the mounting negatives are objectively eye opening. I really like Ignatieff, I don't share the venom others have for him, but this race is a trial run and so far the results should give us all pause.
All this leads me back to Kennedy's comment. Everyone has challenges, but the question, which ones can be overcome and which are destined to haunt? If we want a new image, with a new agenda, that can speak to the future through a clear lens, then Kennedy is a slam dunk juxtaposed against these other men. Kennedy's biggest baggage revolves around an open question, which seems a far cry better than re-hashing old answers.