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But he used to be a writer


 

The Observer’s Rachel Cooke tries to understand Michael Ignatieff’s current predicament.

But Ignatieff used to be a writer, a man who could say whatever he liked, and now he is a politician, and is able to say precisely nothing unless it comes straight from the script. How can that be fun? The Ignatieff brow – portcullis to his great big brain – wrinkles in the approved manner. “In politics, there’s a kind of literal-mindedness,” he says. “It’s what you say, not what you mean, and you have to say only what you mean. Your question implies that I’ve suddenly had to tie myself in knots. No, I don’t have to tie myself in knots, and I don’t have to cease being who I am. But I have to watch what I say because the public has no other way to judge me than by what they read. I can’t walk around saying: ‘I keep saying these dreadful things, but I’m actually a nice fellow!’ Why should they believe that?”

But writing is about nuance, and politics is, well, not. I don’t know how he contains himself. “Again, I don’t see it that way. I see this as the most exciting thing I’ve ever had to do. The most difficult, but when it’s going well, the most rewarding.” Writing and politics are both, he insists, about listening, about expressing what people are thinking and feeling. But the bonus in politics is that, in theory, the politician gets to make people’s lives better. “The idea that there is this contrast between a world of subtlety, and a world of bald, flat generalisations doesn’t sound like what it’s like at all. The best part of what I’ve been doing in the past four years has been listening intently to Canadians in big rooms and small rooms, in wharves and bars and airport lounges, just trying to pick up the music here, so that what’s really on their minds gets into the policies.”


 
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But he used to be a writer

  1. I believe we've finally found the reason why nobody thinks Canadian politics is ever going to work. As a nation, we're simply too small-minded and resentful and we get exactly what we deserve. We've turned Stephen J. Harper, reformer, into a Wormtongue-like schemer in the shadows, obsessed with secrecy and spin; we've turned Gilles Duceppe, idealist, into a solar-powered metronome; and we're turning Michael G. Ignatieff, man of letters, into a kind of Delphic oracle of platitudes and easy-listening afternoon FM. Look on them, Canada, and look upon yourselves.

  2. I believe we've finally found the reason why nobody thinks Canadian politics is ever going to work. As a nation, we're simply too small-minded and resentful and we get exactly what we deserve. We've turned Stephen J. Harper, reformer, into a Wormtongue-like schemer in the shadows, obsessed with secrecy and spin; we've turned Gilles Duceppe, idealist, into a solar-powered metronome; and we're turning Michael G. Ignatieff, man of letters, into a kind of Delphic oracle of platitudes and easy-listening afternoon FM. Look on them, Canada, and look upon yourself.

  3. I believe we've finally found the reason why nobody thinks Canadian politics is ever going to work. As a nation, we're simply too small-minded and resentful and we get exactly what we deserve. We've turned Stephen J. Harper, reformer, into a Wormtongue-like schemer in the shadows, obsessed with secrecy and spin; we've turned Gilles Duceppe, idealist, into a solar-powered metronome; and we're turning Michael G. Ignatieff, man of letters, into a kind of Delphic oracle of platitudes and easy-listening afternoon FM. Look upon them, Canadian voter, and look upon yourself.

    • Setting aside your incisive comments about Harper and Duceppe, you're blaming Canadian voters for turning the once -estimable Ignatieff into the "Delphic oracle of platitudes and easy-listening afternoon FM"? (great description, btw)

      Personally, I blame Ian Davey, Paul Zed, and the rest of the Rosedale Gang (with the exception of Leslie Church, who is awesome).

      I also blame Ignatieff himself for being so willing and so malleable.

    • Setting aside your incisive comments about Harper and Duceppe, you're blaming Canadian voters for turning the once-estimable Ignatieff into the "Delphic oracle of platitudes and easy-listening afternoon FM"? (great description, btw)

      Personally, I blame Ian Davey, Paul Zed, and the rest of the Rosedale Gang (with the exception of Leslie Church, who is awesome).

      I also blame Ignatieff himself for being so willing and so malleable.

      • I hope you're right and it's just human error. But these guys are also attuned (or think they're attuned) to what Canadians want. And I can't blame them. If Iggy muses about, oh I don't know, prisons in some way that contradicts the Received Canadian Wisdom about prisons, it's a "gaffe" and more "proof" that he's unfocused. If Harper tries to look on the bright side of a stock crash and semi-jokes about a "great buying opportunity," he never hears the end of it. Maybe it was always implicit in the national character, but our collective phobia about uttering a single unchaste syllable seems increasingly acute. It's easy, à la P'tit-Guy, to blame the Media, but the Gotcharama sells; and if the media doesn't sell it, the attack ads will. And I'd say it's a pretty quick leap from gaffe-paranoia to utter banality.

        I mean, look at me. I'm a free thinker and I comment here as I think. God knows, every single flamewar I've ever been in is now in the public domain. Every ironical remark, stripped of its sarcasm, could be quoted back at me. How could someone like me ever go into politics in the current climate?

        Poor Ignatieff! Poor Harper! They must've spent their whole lives thinking that when they got a big soap box they would be able to convince Canadians to do something. Instead Canadians have convinced them to do nothing.

        • Poor them!

          But on the other hand, one could decide to go the Ralph Klein route and embrace the imagery — go get drunk and tell the homeless to get jobs! Tell the Easterners to get out of your city! Tell the press to get bent! (Well, Harper still manages to do that.)

        • Poor them!

          But on the other hand, one could decide to go the Ralph Klein route and embrace the imagery — go get drunk and tell the homeless to get jobs! Tell the Easterners to get out of your city! Tell the press to get bent! (Well, Harper still manages to do that.)

          Flip someone the bird. Tell reporters that they're full of it. It worked for Trudeau!

          • But then, a flip comment about artists quite possibly cost Harper his majority last time.

            So I guess the immediate incentives are against it.

          • Together with his tough-on-crime policy of throwing children in jail.

          • They apparently cared more about the culture cuts.

          • Actually, it was Charest that turned Harper's majority into a minority.
            Charest wanted 'his' majority in the election that shortly followed the fed election.
            So Charest pounced on Harper, 14 times, very publicly thrashing him.

          • "Actually, it was Charest that turned Harper's majority into a minority."

            Actually, you're wrong.

          • Maybe a little proof. I think wilson has a point. Harper was playing footsie with the ADQ in the attempt to build a "conservative" machine The ADQ proved to be a mirage and Charest acted rationally in stomping on it. Now Harper has been courting Charest and rebuilding a rapproachment. Of course JC is accepting chocolate from Iggy as well, like any good Quebec premier is expected to. Harper wins if Charest puts out a whisper to either sve the con seats or stay strictly neutral. If Charest is thinking national again, thats an IF, he wont want the cons wiped out.

          • "Flip someone the bird. Tell reporters that they're full of it. It worked for Trudeau! "

            But some people believe *we* won't like this (even though most of behave like that all the time). Of course, by the time most of us will have heard about it, the candour and passion of that sentiment will have been suitably judged by the Serious People whose job it is to explain ourselves to us.

        • One thing that strikes me: a successful and effective political leader must be both an effective politician and an effective legislator. And these are two separate sets of skills, which are hard to find in a single person.

          And the requirements for being an effective politician are extremely demanding these days: he or she must be constantly able to stay on message, deliver short and compelling sound bites on demand, and never, never say anything that could be interpreted as a gaffe. The aspiring office-seeker would, basically, have to be on guard 24/7.

          Given the increasing prevalence of social networking sites such as Facebook, it might be very difficult for anybody younger than a certain age to achieve public office: there would be too many embarrassing photographs or comments out there available for use by an opponent's war room.

          My own belief is that the parliamentary system of government that we have inherited works on the assumption that all parties involved will behave in a gentlemanly (or ladylike) manner. This system was developed long before there were such things as mass-media attack ads or sophisticated research on how the quirks of the human brain – legacies of the evolutionary process – can be exploited to create a more effective political message. For our political system to do what it is intended to do – find the best people to lead the country – some additional checks and balances are almost certainly required. Unfortunately, the people who are in a position to implement these checks and balances are the people who most benefit from their non-existence.

        • One thing that strikes me: a successful political leader must be both an effective politician and an effective legislator. And these are two separate sets of skills, which are hard to find in a single person.

          And the requirements for being an effective politician are extremely demanding these days: he or she must be constantly able to stay on message, deliver short and compelling sound bites on demand, and never, never say anything that could be interpreted as a gaffe. The aspiring office-seeker would, basically, have to be on guard 24/7.

          Given the increasing prevalence of social networking sites such as Facebook, it might be very difficult for anybody younger than a certain age to achieve public office: there would be too many embarrassing photographs or comments out there available for use by an opponent's war room.

          My own belief is that the parliamentary system of government that we have inherited works on the assumption that all parties involved will behave in a gentlemanly (or ladylike) manner. This system was developed long before there were such things as mass-media attack ads or sophisticated research on how the quirks of the human brain – legacies of the evolutionary process – can be exploited to create a more effective political message. For our political system to do what it is intended to do – find the best people to lead the country – some additional checks and balances are almost certainly required. Unfortunately, the people who are in a position to implement these checks and balances are the people who most benefit from their non-existence.

        • I'd vote for you, Jack. Maybe make this your platform. "You need to be better, you need to pay attention, or you'll continue to get what you've been getting." It may not sell, but at least you'd be brought down on something you mean rather than on something you once said taken out of context.

          • Harper has shown his disdain for federal institutions before and after elections, only tempering the rhetoric when making appointments.

        • One thing that strikes me: a successful political leader must be both an effective politician and an effective legislator. And these are separate sets of skills, which are hard to find in a single person.

          And the requirements for being an effective politician are extremely demanding these days: he or she must be constantly able to stay on message, deliver short and compelling sound bites on demand, and never, never say anything that could be interpreted as a gaffe. The aspiring office-seeker would, basically, have to be on guard 24/7.

          Given the increasing prevalence of social networking sites such as Facebook, it might be very difficult for anybody younger than a certain age to achieve public office: there would be too many embarrassing photographs or comments out there available for use by an opponent's war room.

          My own belief is that the parliamentary system of government that we have inherited works on the assumption that all parties involved will behave in a gentlemanly (or ladylike) manner. This system was developed long before there were such things as mass-media attack ads or sophisticated research on how the quirks of the human brain – legacies of the evolutionary process – can be exploited to create a more effective political message. For our political system to do what it is intended to do – find the best people to lead the country – some additional checks and balances are almost certainly required. Unfortunately, the people who are in a position to implement these checks and balances are the people who benefit most from their non-existence.

          • I agree with your last thought, wrt. more checks and balances. Partisan advertising outside of writ period and other such incivilities need to be reigned in hard. Short of reforming our electoral system to encourage cooperation, what other (achievable) checks and balances do you see?

          • Eliminating advertising outside of election campaigns is a good idea. Eliminating attack ads that focus solely on personalities, not on issues, would be good, too: hey, we already know that your party thinks that the opposition is bad.

            Some kind of "equal time" clause might be a good thing too: if Party X decides to release an attack ad, Parties Y and Z are automatically entitled to equal time to refute Party X's claims.

            What I object to most about political advertising these days is that effective advertising cannot help but have some effect, even on the most skeptical reader or viewer – our brains are wired to respond in particular ways to particular stimuli. If saturation advertising is deployed, it can't help but sway enough voters to make a difference in swing ridings. This, I believe, is what the Conservatives are doing now.

          • As an example of what I'm talking about, here is a quote from neurologist Robert Burton, author of "On Being Certain":

            "I suspect that retreat into absolute ideologies is accentuated during periods of confusion, lack of governmental direction, economic chaos and information overload. At bottom, we are pattern recognizers who seek escape from ambiguity and indecision. If a major brain function is to maintain mental homeostasis, it is understandable how stances of certainty can counteract anxiety and apprehension. Even though I know better, I find myself somewhat reassured (albeit temporarily) by absolute comments such as, “the stock market always recovers,” even when I realize that this may be only wishful thinking.

            "Sadly, my cynical side also suspects that political advisors use this knowledge of the biology of certainty to actively manipulate public opinion. Nuance is abandoned in favor of absolutes."

          • As an example of what I'm talking about, here is a quote from neurologist Robert Burton, author of "On Being Certain":

            "I suspect that retreat into absolute ideologies is accentuated during periods of confusion, lack of governmental direction, economic chaos and information overload. At bottom, we are pattern recognizers who seek escape from ambiguity and indecision. If a major brain function is to maintain mental homeostasis, it is understandable how stances of certainty can counteract anxiety and apprehension. Even though I know better, I find myself somewhat reassured (albeit temporarily) by absolute comments such as, 'the stock market always recovers,' even when I realize that this may be only wishful thinking.

            "Sadly, my cynical side also suspects that political advisors use this knowledge of the biology of certainty to actively manipulate public opinion. Nuance is abandoned in favor of absolutes."

          • Eliminating advertising outside of election campaigns is a good idea. Eliminating attack ads that focus solely on personalities, not on issues, would be good, too: hey, we already know that your party thinks that the opposition is bad.

            Some kind of "equal time" clause might be a good thing too: if Party X decides to release an attack ad, Parties Y and Z are automatically entitled to equal time to refute Party X's claims.

            What I object to most about political advertising these days is that effective political advertising cannot help but have some effect, even on the most skeptical reader or viewer – our brains are wired to respond in particular ways to particular stimuli. If saturation advertising is deployed, it can't help but sway enough voters to make enough of a difference in swing ridings. This, I believe, is what the Conservatives are doing now.

          • Eliminating advertising outside of election campaigns is a good idea. Eliminating attack ads that focus solely on personalities, not on issues, would be good, too: hey, we already know that your party thinks that the opposition is bad.

            Some kind of "equal time" clause might be a good thing too: if Party X decides to release an attack ad, Parties Y and Z are automatically entitled to equal time to refute Party X's claims.

            What I object to most about political advertising these days is that effective advertising cannot help but have some effect, even on the most skeptical reader or viewer – our brains are wired to respond in particular ways to particular stimuli. If saturation advertising is deployed, it can't help but sway enough voters to make enough of a difference in swing ridings. This, I believe, is what the Conservatives are doing now.

          • Eliminating advertising outside of election campaigns is a good idea. Eliminating attack ads that focus solely on personalities, not on issues, would be good: hey, we already know that your party thinks that the opposition is bad.

            Some kind of "equal time" clause might be a good thing too: if Party X decides to release an attack ad, Parties Y and Z are automatically entitled to equal time to refute Party X's claims.

            What I object to most about political advertising these days is that effective advertising cannot help but have some effect, even on the most skeptical reader or viewer – our brains are wired to respond in particular ways to particular stimuli. If saturation advertising is deployed, it can't help but sway enough voters to make a difference in swing ridings. This, I believe, is what the Conservatives are doing now.

          • Eliminating advertising outside of election campaigns is a good idea. Eliminating attack ads that focus solely on personalities, not on issues, would be good: hey, we already know that your party thinks that the opposition is bad.

            Some kind of "equal time" clause might be a good thing too: if Party X decides to release an attack ad, Parties Y and Z become automatically entitled to equal time to refute Party X's claims.

            What I object to most about political advertising these days is that effective advertising cannot help but have some influence, even on the most skeptical reader or viewer – our brains are wired to respond in particular ways to particular stimuli. If saturation advertising is deployed, it can't help but sway enough voters to make a difference in swing ridings. This, I believe, is what the Conservatives are doing now.

          • As an example of what I'm talking about, here is a quote from neurologist Robert Burton, author of "On Being Certain":

            "I suspect that retreat into absolute ideologies is accentuated during periods of confusion, lack of governmental direction, economic chaos and information overload. At bottom, we are pattern recognizers who seek escape from ambiguity and indecision. If a major brain function is to maintain mental homeostasis, it is understandable how stances of certainty can counteract anxiety and apprehension. Even though I know better, I find myself somewhat reassured (albeit temporarily) by absolute comments such as, 'the stock market always recovers,' even when I realize that this may be only wishful thinking.

            "Sadly, my cynical side also suspects that political advisors use this knowledge of the biology of certainty to actively manipulate public opinion. Nuance is abandoned in favor of absolutes."

        • Jack, you're a braver man than I am for commenting as you think under your own name. I hope you do go into politics someday.

      • I'm not going to try to absolve the Rosedale Gang of blame (because they are part of MI's problem), but by the same token the Canadian public is also not blameless, although in a less direct way.

        The Rosedale Gang might be underestimating the public appetite for the 'true' Michael Ignatieff, but the gang is not imagining the existence of a significant portion of the public who partake in public policy debates and politics at a superficial level, a level where gaffes and gotcha moments are most important.

        WRT MI himself, I actually prefer leaders (people in general, for that matter) who are at least somewhat malleable. The alternative is a brittle leader, someone who, once their mind is made up, will never take the time to re-evaluate a decision or policy, even in the light of new information. Obviously the danger of being malleable is that you spend all of your time revisiting past or current decisions and never make progress.

    • Setting aside your incisive comments about Harper and Duceppe, you're blaming Canadian voters for turning the once-estimable Ignatieff into the "Delphic oracle of platitudes and easy-listening afternoon FM"? (great description, btw.)

      Personally, I blame Ian Davey, Paul Zed, and the rest of the Rosedale Gang (with the exception of Leslie Church, who is awesome).

      I also blame Ignatieff himself for being so willing and so malleable.

  4. I believe we've finally found the reason why nobody thinks Canadian politics is ever going to work. As a nation, we're simply too small-minded and resentful and we get exactly what we deserve. We've turned Stephen J. Harper, reformer, into a Wormtongue-like schemer in the shadows, obsessed with secrecy and spin; we've turned Gilles Duceppe, idealist, into a solar-powered metronome; and we're turning Michael G. Ignatieff, man of letters, into a kind of Delphic oracle of platitudes and easy-listening afternoon FM. Look upon them, Canada, and look upon yourself.

  5. Well put, Jack.

    I'd like Iggy more if he'd just stand up and make some exciting mistakes for a change instead of all this safe pablum about 'the jobs of the 21st century' and 'we'll be fiscally responsible but only after we've had time to cook the books our way.'

    • Hear hear. Alas, I fear his People are determined to stick with bland-on-bland.

      Like yourself, Brian, I hope and trust that Canadians, if they were ever presented with something like fiery, risk-taking leadership, would embrace it. My problem is that, in order to keep on functioning, I need to believe that. Still, if I'm wrong, I'd like to know ASAP. This waiting-for-the-Messiah thing is too much like hard work.

      • Your points are valid and perceptive. But what will awaken the voters and sell from sea to sea to sea?
        Obama's inspiring oratory morphed into a form of ET style celebrity mixed with him taking the seat on the bus next to Rosa Parks. But it was the societal firestorm that set the table.
        Here? How is the table set?
        I don't see an incendiary nucleus that will unite a vote. The only thing people agree on is that they don't want an election. It's like we have to wake up in some fleabag surrounded by empty coffe cups and a timbit hangover from hell before we can start up the 12 steps and get back on track. But this bender of complacent banality looks like it hasn't hit bottom yet.

      • Your points are valid and perceptive. But what will awaken the voters and sell from sea to sea to sea?
        Obama's inspiring oratory morphed into a form of ET style celebrity mixed with him taking the seat on the bus next to Rosa Parks. But it was the societal firestorm that set the table.
        Here? How is the table set?
        I don't see an incendiary nucleus that will unite a vote. The only thing people agree on is that they don't want an election. It's like we have to wake up in some flophouse dump surrounded by empty coffe cups and a timbit hangover from hell before we can start up the 12 steps and get back on track. But this bender of complacent banality looks like it hasn't hit bottom yet.

      • Our PM is the king of bland, are you kidding me?

        • I don't deny that, for sure! But you'd think anybody would look lively and inspiring next to Harper, and yet . . .

  6. Rex Murphy's recent take on Ignatieff's communication style:

    He is cocky and uncertain almost simultaneously, aggressive and challenging one moment, hesitant and even confusing in his message the next. That message, what there is of it, is a muddle. He casts the word “vision” around like it's a talisman, but speaks in the mushy platitudes of a high school valedictorian. He seems stranded between the two models of successful Liberal leadership, caught between the saloon and the salon. He cannot, by nature, mimic Jean Chrétien's carefully crafted populist style. Neither does he have the electricity and presence of Pierre Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau's braininess was sexy, Mr. Ignatieff's you merely gather from the résumé.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/why-

  7. Rex Murphy's recent take on Ignatieff's communication style:

    He is cocky and uncertain almost simultaneously, aggressive and challenging one moment, hesitant and even confusing in his message the next. That message, what there is of it, is a muddle. He casts the word “vision” around like it's a talisman, but speaks in the mushy platitudes of a high school valedictorian. He seems stranded between the two models of successful Liberal leadership, caught between the saloon and the salon. He cannot, by nature, mimic Jean Chrétien's carefully crafted populist style. Neither does he have the electricity and presence of Pierre Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau's braininess was sexy, Mr. Ignatieff's you merely gather from the résumé.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/why-

    • Watch MI's next news interview and have a bottle of your favourite liquor with you. Take a shot every time he says a personal promoun, I, I'am, i"ve, or me…..you will be more snookered than playing "Hi Bob" with the Bob Newhart show.

      We is also acceptable if he is clearly using it in the Royal "we" as oppsoed to geneuine collective reference to the Liberal Party.

      PS Dont plan on driving after this.

  8. the man most likely to be Canada's next prime minister

    The current Conservative administration is on its knees

    Admittedly, everything I know about Canada has been gleaned from the stories of Alice Munro

    Ignatieff needs more glowing endorsements from such well-informed foreign commentators.

    • Alice Munro In particular would spank you for being such a soulless zoo denizen. I might suggest the title of her next collection: "Creatures of the Black Poltroon."

      • "Ignatieff needs more glowing endorsements from such well-informed foreign commentators. "

        What do you want him to do, cranky? Insist everyone in the foreign press who interviews him be vetted first for their knowledge of Canada? Good luck with that. Canada disappears as soon as you cross the border…any border.

        Besides, I'd hardly this column from a reliably bored Brit an endorsement.

  9. What I am seeing here is not due to the media's scrutiny – it's due to the "unelected handlers" trying to manage Mr. Ignatieff's image.
    Happened to Cretien when he first became leader – the spontaneity (of straight from the heart) became mummified – wrapped in pre-packaged speeches that really told us nothing. Thank the lord as he began to feel comfortable in his skin again – more of the old Cretien spontaneity came through again.
    Let's hope that – in time – Mr. Ignatieff realizes that he too has to be himself – because – after all – that is what we are all waiting to see!
    Sooner rather than too late please Mr. Ignatieff!

    • Being Lib leader and PM was easy, when the right was divided and the BLOC was in it's early years.

      MI has a much tougher job as Lib leader, with a united right, BLOC dominance in Quebec and all the while sitting powerlessly in opposition.
      Regardless of who sits in the big chair, nothing is going to change for the LPC until their grassroots takes back the party, and rebuilds from the ground up.
      That will take years, mostly because the LPC has ignored and abused Western Canada for generations.

  10. An afterthought – in the interim – he should allow the depth of the team to show through more – not just Bob Rae – who has done a great job – but others like Gerard Kennedy – who toil in the background – but did not get the credit in Friday's speech – which appears to have gone to Martha Hall-Findlay – for the research on the rollout (or not) of infrastructure money!

    • Ah, but Wascally, YOU need to pay attention. Ignatieff was in that field with Kennedy and mentioned his great work on the research at least a half dozen times. And it showed, since Ignatieff was all very general and didn't really say anything, and Kennedy then took the mike and answered the questions with specifics. It was night and day, and frankly didn't reflect well on Ignatieff. So probably the handlers saw that and wanted to tone down Kennedy's impact (which one's the leader again?)

      I expect you had to see the full press conference to get that and I don't expect every Canadian to be able to/want to watch every press conference by every political party in Canada. But it's too bad, because I don't think the media are "clipping" the full effect.

      I totally support the concept of having an entire team, not just a leader though. And to that end, I thought the handlers were very wrong to deny Kennedy the full spotlight. Let's be honest, no one person can be the "expert" on every single thing. So why do we have to pretend that the Leader is the receptacle of all knowledge?

  11. Yeah well, Iggy's domestic reviews aren't exactly glowing, at least he still has some beleivers in London and New York.

    Aside from the Rex Murphy piece linked by CR above, there's the piece in the Globe and Mail from Rick Salutin last Friday entitled "Narcissieff in the mirror of politics". In it, he asks the question of how Iggy will fare on the campaign trail. His answer:

    "My own sense is that he'll make a seriously bad candidate, due to what I'd call his narcissism. This isn't so much about adoring yourself, as being so self-absorbed that your sense of how others react to you goes missing. A therapist I know says it usually involves "a great deal of self-referencing. A real other doesn't exist except as an extension of themselves.""

    The troubles in Liberalville may have only just begun if our DOMESTIC pundits are to be beleived.

  12. When I read the headline, I thought it was going to be about Harper, the esteemed writer of hockey books and manifestos and such. Speaking of which, when are we going to hear about Harper's book on the history of donuts?

  13. Ahh yes, Iggy's "predicament".

    Iggy has spent his whole life speaking on behalf of Iggy and no one else. Wholly uninterested in having to speak the language from other peoples' perspectives, concerns, views, and having never served in a meaningful representative capacity until recently, he now must now try to speak on behalf of all Canadians.

    It's been difficult. It seems that Iggy's solution is to keep to a favourite subject: himself.

    And so we have another discussion with Iggy, about Iggy.

    • LOL, so true, the media always takes us back there, iggy iggy iggy.
      Their hopes and dreams of 'one of theirs' becoming PM have been dashed as his 'performance' grades a solid D;
      so they search for his redemption,
      but what they find is the perfect example of the Peter Principle.

  14. There appears to be a theme here — Iggy is not being well served by his advisers.

    On the whole, that is probably true and, if Iggy were to break free from them, he might do better. On the other hand, he is the one who chose his advisers and he is the one taking their advice. He has to take some of the responsibility for that.

  15. All in all, not a bad article about a Canadian from a British reporter. She mentionned the cold and that she's read a couple of books by Canadian authors, so we can all relax knowing that that we have not lost our vital role of being the Great White Wast of Time that makes Britain endlessly fascinating by comparison.

    Someone send Carol Cooke a DVD of the Trailer Park Boys.

  16. But surely Harper has much the same problem as a former big cheese at the NCC?

    • Issue is time…..Harper has statements form the past that are "contradicted"…hmm lets say mitigated, by people's experience with him. So the criticisms relevant in 2005, when he wasnt in power, dont hold as much water today because it doesnt match people's experience with him.

      Iggy, hasnt had the time, yet…..which is why I dont understand the Liberals pushing for an election, yes some of it is a fighting the last war kind of thing, but the more Iggy is on the Canadian political scene the less the Just Visiting label means anything.

      I have to say I find this aspect of the apparent Liberal strategy a big head scratcher. Add this to the lack of a coherent policy platform, this is simply a function that they havent had the time or devoted the resources to really iterating their platform. An election now is a high risk startegy that trades small gains in Quebec and firming up a position in BC for losses in 905 and potentially breech of 416.

      In other words gains trading gains against the NDP for losses against the Cons….I think this is beginning to dawn on some.

  17. Ignatieff was no doubt spooked and shocked by the anti intellectual way of life, or norm in Ottawa compared to London. He likely couldn't have imagined the level of deceit and hypocrisy in our political discussion. Finally the viciousness, cruelty, and total lack of individual respect in the attack ads, and the ease with which the media is manipulated by the PMO spin doctors knocked him off his feet for sure..
    He's still shell shocked. I'm still hopeful he can find his voice and recover. Canada needs leaders of his calibre. If he's driven out it will send quite a message to people across Canada who might be potential political recruits.

    • "Finally the viciousness, cruelty, and total lack of individual respect…"

      Iggy ain't seen nothing yet. Now that he's shown weakness in the Outremont nomination fight, the Rae/Chretien/Desmarais camp smell blood. His days as Liberal are numbered in more ways than one.

      Rae and Chretien urged Iggy on at the time of the Coalition and also in the late spring to pull the plug and take down the Conservatives. Iggy blinked. He'd better keep his eyes wide open from here on in because the Liberal natives are restless, not to mention ruthless.

      • If you read the post you would have seen the quotation you cited was not used in regard to Iggy personally, but was a general statement about our politics which would have influenced him when he saw it in action. He must have been shocked at the way the last campaign was conducted, and what was done to Stephane Dion on the national airwaves.
        However the reduction of our political discourse to a state of warfare is I agree something that is now accepted by the media and indeed all political parties.
        Internal party politics which I'm sure can at times be active in Cons as well as Liberals is not as nationally significant. He probably saw all that in the leadership race. But I don't think within political parties the aim is to actually destroy a person, as it is with the Republican/ Conservative Party national campaign strategies and tactics..

        • The vicious character assassination levelved by the Liberal Party of Canada against Stockwell Day, Stephen Harper and Preston Manning in 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006 is lengendary. If he was truly shocked about Dion's treatment, it's because he was out of the country when the Liberals were doing a number on their conservatives opponents.

          • "The vicious character assassination levelved by the Liberal Party of Canada against Stockwell Day, Stephen Harper and Preston Manning in 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006 is lengendary."

            Examples please.

          • I thought Mannin just floated along saying I'll cut taxes, but won't cut any of your services. Despite what was going on with his partner Harris in Ontario the media let him get away with it.

    • You're about as familiar with London and British political culture as Rachel Cooke is with Canada.

      Go read The Spectator, look up the Telegraph's expenses expose, watch The Thick of It. After you've done that, come in with a straight face about how the high mindedness and depth of London life and politics.

      Have you heard of George Galloway or Ken Livingstone? In last summer's Crewe and Nantwich by-election Labour's candidate had a couple volunteers run around in top hats and tails to mock the Conservative candidate's background (wallpaper heir). This would be the Labour candidate who is listed in Burke's Peerage and Gentry and is the daughter of the previous MP.

      Conservatives are mocked as being fascinated with the old imperial capital and denigrating the achievements of Canada. What a case of projection from the Left (like always, what with antisemitism, genocide…)

      • I remember Judy LaMarsh's Truth Squad and the Rat Pack. All in good fun. The expense fiasco wasn't campaign derived. It hit all parties and was from a active aggressive media which you may have noticed we don't have.

        • I remember Judy LaMarsh's truth squad, too and it wasn't "all in good fun" as you syuggest. It was nasty. As for the Rat Pack, it wasn't named after Sinatra's boy's for nothing.

        • Mocking a person't religious beleifs, like they did to Stockwell Day was all good fun?

          The only difference is at the time the liberal media cheered, now that the shoe's on the other foot, they've discoverd that they don't think negative advertising is right. Too funny.

          • "Mocking a person't religious beleifs,"

            Creationism is not a religious belief. It is a ridiculous and risible superstition.

  18. The theory that employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent.

  19. "Cruelty" to Iggy??

    On his arrival, we were told Harper would destroy the fabric of our country (recall the girl in the fetal position, the tanks in the streets, Harper "taking away our rights") or when Dion entered the scene in his first public flourish he railed about Harper not having a "social concience" implying malevolance of the highest order. The media laughed at Harper's weight, ridiculed him in pictures wearing a cowboy outfit (that one actually made national headline "news") and gladly went along with the nefarious "hidden agenda". Before Harper, Day was publicly cartoonized for his personal religious beliefs, with the media gladly joining in the bigoted mockfest.

    Iggy's been treated with kid gloves by comparison, though the protestations of meanness by his supporters do underscore the thin-skinnedness of our travelling professor.

    Apparently now that Iggy has arrived, the nature of politics as we've known it for the last century must change to accord with his sensibilities.

    • In response to your last sentence. Yes! Yes! Yes!

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