Sunday, November 16, 2008

This won't be an Ignatieff coronation, signals Rae...

It's sad to see this kind of pointless dust-up so early in the race for the Liberal leadership. So much for all that talk of civility between the two leading candidates.

I have no insider information on this as I'm about as far removed (by choice) as a partisan Liberal can get from the internal machinations of leadership campaigns. But it does seem odd that the three main candidates would've agreed to participate in the forum two weeks ago without knowing how the forum was going to be run. Bob Rae claims he had no idea that the media was going to be barred from the discussion. So you agree to participate in events without fully knowing what those events entail, Bob?

Warren implies that this whole kerfuffle (my word, not his) is merely part of Bob Rae's strategy to attempt to paint emerging frontrunner Michael Ignatieff as somehow Stephen Harper-lite and to go negative first out of the gate. Rae's comparisons to this weekend's Tory policy convention in Winnipeg, where most party discussions took place behind closed doors, and pointing the finger squarely at Ignatieff for shutting out the "public" from today's forum, make Rae's strategy obvious.

If a consensus is emerging this early in the race that the next leader should be Ignatieff over Rae, then it's clear that the only way Rae can win this thing is by demonizing his former roommate. That's a shame. Ignatieff will have to be careful not to be seen as wanting to protect a substantial lead at all costs and avoiding public scrutiny to do it. If Ignatieff's goal is to prevent Rae from getting any traction in this race, shutting down public exposure to himself and his message isn't probably the best way to do it.

Ignatieff now enjoys enormous advantages. It seems most of the Kennedy and Dion people are heading over to him. Grassroots party members like myself remain as hesitant as ever to anoint a former NDP premier the leadership of the federal Liberal Party. For many Liberals, Bob Rae remains a non-starter, an eloquent, likeable, capable, endearing candidate, but a non-starter all the same.

How many Liberals will be swayed by these kinds of attacks today? If it's a strategy by Iggy to keep the dialogue as brief as possible so as to maintain as strong a lead as possible, I think it may backfire. Rae may find himself getting the traction he so desperately needs if he keeps this up. Hopefully, the Ignatieff team will re-adjust its plans and show greater willingness to be flexible in future. Opening up what could be the only leadership forum before the end of the year wouldn't have been such a bad move. But now Iggy's opened himself up to Rae's attacks.

Ignatieff should remember this isn't going to be a coronation and all Liberals still want to be reassured that the guy they rejected in 2006 has learned a lot and is now a better politician. It's obvious that the more chances Rae has to share the stage with Ignatieff, the better it is for Rae. If Ignatieff wants to solidify his emerging huge lead, the best way to do that would be to debate Rae and Dominic LeBlanc as much as possible and show Liberals like myself that their pro-Ignatieff inclinations are correct.

6 comments:

Skinny Dipper said...

This is both Rae and Ignatieff's last chance to win the leadership. It will be a Thunderdome contest between them: two men enter--one man leaves. I cannot see either one of them hanging around Parliament after the leadership race. They may hold on their parliamentary seats. However, they won't be in attendance. I'm betting if Rae loses, he'll get some kind of appointment from Harper when Harper needs to divert attention from some issue.

MilitantLiberal said...

Matt, have you had any trouble eating or sleeping since joining the dark side? I would pray for you but I'm a massive atheist. Ignatieff will lose, you must accept this.

Matt Guerin said...

Sleeping just fine, militant. By the way, if you want to convince Liberals of anything, it's best not to quote Noam Chomsky to make your points (at least not exclusively.) Just my opinion.

MilitantLiberal said...

It is hit and miss with Noam. He sure illicits some strong feelings.

burlivespipe said...

Your take was certainly balanced and I appreciate that. Rae's move is a gambit -- perhaps the sense of a juggernaut forming behind Iggy has called him to implement 'Operation Thunderstruck'...
Although its really a tempest in a teapot, it has given the CON tin-hatters something to distract the media and blogs with from their own pale failings. Once the first debate hits the stage, this will be forgotten...

RuralSandi said...

I hope it will soon be forgotten. It's stupid and childish and Rae has suddently decided that HE gets to say what is to happen over what the executive planned.

Ah, Rae, you are not the leader yet and may not be.