Iggy and the farmers (II)


A bit of video from Michael Ignatieff’s stop today in Kent Bridge, Ontario has been posted to YouTube. The pitch was not unlike one written about here previously. 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.

Full clip after the jump.


Iggy and the farmers (II)

  1. Ignatieff did not offer a “reassessment” of Iraq.

    He offered a shameful evasion of logic, responsibility, and the truth.

  2. The “I’m a politician, let’s cut the bull, I need your vote” routine is considered old hat in US politics, but it is less familiar to Canadians.

    Seems to me that Iggy is experimenting a bit here. He obviously adapts his speaking style to suit his audience. I’m sure Iggy views farmers as plain-spoken unpretentious folk who appreciate “straight talk” and blunt honesty. He will save his erudition and bons mots for the $500/plate fundraisers.

    • And for Stephen?

  3. Ignatieff clearly has too much self-respect to go around mouthing hypocrisies. This is how the democratic system is supposed to work: I want your vote, and I’m willing to do what you want me to do to get it. I find it extremely refreshing to see a politician talking about agricultural policy without feeling the need to impersonate Winston Churchill during the Blitz.

  4. I find it extremely refreshing to see a politician talking about agricultural policy without feeling the need to impersonate Winston Churchill during the Blitz.

    I also find it extremely refreshing to see a politician talking to farmers without dancing the flamenco and juggling turnips. Even though I’ve never seen this outlandish behaviour, I still feel extremely refreshed by its absence.

    • Not to say that there isn’t a lot of extreme refreshment all round, but I meant that it’s extremely refreshing to watch a politician — nay, a leader — lay his cards on the table and say, “This is about quid pro quo, not about me incarnating your deepest wishes and desires because I love you and you love me and I am you so vote for me.”

      • I know what you meant, but the Churchill imagery was so surreal I couldn’t resist. I agree with you that it’s great for politicians to strip political speech to its essence, rather than concealing it behind the usual veil of grand visions, inane symbolism and general BS. That said, how much of it is a pose? Does Iggy really think that way, or is he just pandering to his audience?

        • Aha! And to what extent is he posing as a non-poseur? I mean, seriously. It’s funny how, in this age of irony, our politics is generally as earnest as lawnmower ads from the 1950’s. Perhaps whoever taps into ironic detachment, i.e. reality TV politics, will steal a major march? Except that god-awful tripe of the Sweater Vest sort apparently works. Weird that TV audiences apparently love the political schmaltz but require irony in, say, beer ads. Or is it beautiful naivety?

          • All that’s needed? Add a “just kidding” to the end of every speech.

            Seriously, you and CR touch a sensitive lump in our collective psyche. Who CAN we believe?

  5. Stephen & Northern POV corrected Wherry. Critical Reasoning & Jack Mitchell’s comments half explicitly, mostly implicitly, raise a question I sometimes wonder about myself, inspired by a line in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (movie, couldn’t say about book): there’s no question Iggy’s a phony and always has been, the only question is whether he’s a “real phony”, like Holly Golightly, or a phony phony. He’s FELT DEEPLY about so many things and also felt EVERYONE should know how just how DEEPLY he felt (like letting his brother nurse his sick mother and then appropriating his brother’s & mother’s travails for a book in which Iggy becomes the caring one), while assuming supposedly iconoclastic positions from time to time in a Hitchens-like search to be later recognised for Orwellian moral clarity when all his fellow travellers were wrong (unfortunately, these wannabe iconoclasms were wrong on facts & morals, before & after). I guess there are two questions, whether he’s a just a phony or a “real phony”, and which is worse? Does he take on poses and then become convinced of their truth (a heightened version of what most human beings, esp. politicians, do) or is he always posing and simply can’t tell what’s real or true (like a Kundera comedian)? I think Iggy is an example of the second case, which is morally superior, as unaware of own phoniness and thus not consciously engaging in deception, his own or others, as well as a far more dangerous characteristic for anyone involved in questions of public policy which affect many people. Holly Golightly’s conduct only affects herself and a small circle around her, after all.

    On a minor note, further to Stephen & Northern POV, I’d be intrigued to know what Wherry considers “the best bits of his Iraq reassessment”. Or is this a parody of Iggyism, for “Iraq reassessment”, see “misplaced specificity”? Or is Wherry suffering from Stockholm syndrome and actually thinks Iggy offered, (a) a proper “Iraq reassessment”, and (b) there were “best bits” within it? Or maybe even worse, if Iggy is a Kundera comedian-politician, has Wherry become a Kundera comedian-columnist, both playing roles, neither knowing, nor caring, about the real? Hope not. Hope it was just sarcasm or parody.

    • Eugene, you speak as if you know Mr. Ignatieff personally and i”m quite sure thatyou don’t. Don’t start repeating stuff you know nothing about and expect people to believe you. Don’t assume anything. Facts is all we need. Anything else is BS and heresay.

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