“Better a Rae Day than a Harper lifetime.” Not a bad line, is it? I take this minor witticism to be a major portent for the Liberals. When the Conservatives attacked Michael Ignatieff for his truancy, his response was all tear-streaked indignation. A lot of people still think the attacks on Ignatieff were harmful and despicable; I think they weren’t answered properly because there was no good answer. But we might still agree (and by this I mean it would now be insane not to) that the man could have afforded to display a little more self-awareness, a little less wounded amour-propre. By denying the possibility that any amount of time out of the country could impinge on his moral eligibility for leadership of it (MAH PATRIOTIZM!), he forced his defenders into absurd logical postures while allowing undecideds to suspect that he was protesting just a little too much. “How dare these colonials expect me to have actually lived amidst their kooky regional accents and odd cooking smells?”
The important thing to notice about Rae’s little gag is that he is actually part of the punchline. He’s acknowledging (by referring openly to Rae Days) that people still have bad memories of his Ontario premiership. He has assembled the first draft of a defence of his record, rather then shrieking at the temerity of those who might bring it up. Rae says he’s learned from the mistakes he made as a young New Democrat premier, and if he’s going to lead the Liberals, we shall have to hope he has. In the meantime, it sure looks like he’s learned from his pal Iggy’s experience.