Michael Ignatieff v. Our idea of what Michael Ignatieff should be - Macleans.ca
 

Michael Ignatieff v. Our idea of what Michael Ignatieff should be


 

Adam Radwanski adds several hundred more words to the debate over Michael Ignatieff’s relative existence.

Perhaps Canadians aren’t looking for a prime minister who’s going to try to find deeper meaning in federal policies. But if that’s the case, then Ignatieff’s pretty well out of luck. He’ll never be a terrific retail politician, in the mould of a Jean Chretien; even Stephen Harper, awkward though he can be, will always be better at delivering a simple message. If the Liberals were just looking for a guy who could deliver an effective sound bite, they could surely have found someone else.

Ignatieff’s promise has always been in his (potential) ability to rise above the fray, and to challenge us a little … adapting needn’t mean abandoning what impressed people about you in the first place.


 

Michael Ignatieff v. Our idea of what Michael Ignatieff should be

  1. Remember when Dion was going to raise the quality of our national political discourse, too? Good times.

    • that's why they gear TV commercials to a grade 7 mentality

  2. Uh-oh, Radwanski is preparing to genuflect before Mr. Angry's amazing maturity and restraint again, not to mention is (rumoured at) humane side and brilliant leadership abilities. Go read your endorsement of Harper from last election, Radwanski, then go hang your head in clueless shame.

  3. The promise he held? I guess all things new hold the promise to be better or at least different. But other than he was/is a smart guy isnt really enough is it?

    Does anyone really believe that all of the federal leaders and many of the colleagues are "smart". That isnt it.

    Now why Adam thinks Iggy showed promise to rise above the fray, elevate the discussion….this goes back to the smart argument and the fallacy that the only reason the debate isnt at a higher level is because they arent smart enough to do it…..not true.

    It takes character, but even Trudeau, the alleged role model, wasnt above character assination or shifting policies or gamesmanship with important issues.

    But why in the world Iggy was tagged as being saviour of discourse is more Adam's own delusion rather than an actual failing on Iggy's part.

    • Perhaps, Vince, it's a matter of contrast: "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." Maybe, when compared to Harper, Ignatieff really can seem a saviour.

  4. The ghost of Trudeau may not haunt Canada much anymore but it sure haunts the Liberal party. And therein is much of the explanation of Ignatieff. He is an intellectual and an impressive one at that Trudeau could pass for one but never really was much of an intellectual. (One of the cruelest but telling quips about Trudeau was Bourgault's challenge to find a single instance where Trudeau ever cited a quote that wasn't in Bartlett's. Lots of people took umbrage but I don't think anyone ever found an example either.)

    What Trudeau really was, and I mean this as praise, was one of the sharpest retail politicians we've ever had in this country; a back-alley brawler who good go bare-knucle against the best of them. The intellectual stuff was just window dressing. Dion and Ignatieff seem both to be destined to prove the adage, never bring an intellectual to a knife fight.

  5. The ghost of Trudeau may not haunt Canada much anymore but it sure haunts the Liberal party. And therein is much of the explanation of Ignatieff. He is an intellectual and an impressive one at that. Trudeau could pass for one but never really was much of an intellectual. (One of the cruelest but telling quips about Trudeau was Bourgault's challenge to find a single instance where Trudeau ever cited a quote that wasn't in Bartlett's. Lots of people took umbrage but I don't think anyone ever found an example either.)

    What Trudeau really was, and I mean this as praise, was one of the sharpest retail politicians we've ever had in this country; a back-alley brawler who good go bare-knucle against the best of them. The intellectual stuff was just window dressing. Dion and Ignatieff seem both to be destined to prove the adage, never bring an intellectual to a knife fight.

  6. The ghost of Trudeau may not haunt Canada much anymore but it sure haunt's the Liberal party. And therein is much of the explanation of Ignatieff. He is an intellectual and an impressive one at that Trudeau could pass for one but never really was much of an intellectual. (One of the cruelest but telling quips about Trudeau was Bourgault's challenge to find a single instance where Trudeau ever cited a quote that wasn't in Bartlett's. Lots of people took umbrage but I don't think anyone ever found an example either.)

    What Trudeau really was, and I mean this as praise, was one of the sharpest retail politicians we've ever had in this country; a back-alley brawler who good go bare-knucle against the best of them. The intellectual stuff was just window dressing. Dion and Ignatieff seem both to be destined to prove the adage, never bring an intellectual to a knife fight.

  7. The ghost of Trudeau may not haunt Canada much anymore but it sure haunts the Liberal party. And therein is much of the explanation of Ignatieff. He is an intellectual and an impressive one at that and a lot of his appeal is the feeling that he might be the next Trudeau. But Trudeau could pass for one but never really was much of an intellectual. (One of the cruelest but telling quips about Trudeau was Bourgault's challenge to find a single instance where Trudeau ever cited a quote that wasn't in Bartlett's. Lots of people took umbrage but I don't think anyone ever found an example either.)

    What Trudeau really was, and I mean this as praise, was one of the sharpest retail politicians we've ever had in this country; a back-alley brawler who good go bare-knucle against the best of them. The intellectual stuff was just window dressing. Dion and Ignatieff seem both to be destined to prove the adage, never bring an intellectual to a knife fight.

  8. The ghost of Trudeau may not haunt Canada much anymore but it sure haunts the Liberal party. And therein is much of the explanation of Ignatieff. He is an intellectual and an impressive one at that and a lot of his appeal is the feeling that he might be the next Trudeau. But Trudeau could pass for one but never really was much of an intellectual. (One of the cruelest but telling quips about Trudeau was Bourgault's challenge to find a single instance where Trudeau ever cited a quote that wasn't in Bartlett's. Lots of people took umbrage but I don't think anyone ever found an example either.)

    What Trudeau really was, and I mean this as praise, was one of the sharpest retail politicians we've ever had in this country; a back-alley brawler who could go bare-knucle against the best of them. The intellectual stuff was just window dressing. Dion and Ignatieff seem both to be destined to prove the adage, never bring an intellectual to a knife fight.

  9. The ghost of Trudeau may not haunt Canada much anymore but it sure haunts the Liberal party. And therein is much of the explanation of Ignatieff. He is an intellectual and an impressive one at that and a lot of his appeal is the feeling that he might be the next Trudeau. But Trudeau could pass for one but never really was much of an intellectual. (One of the cruelest but telling quips about Trudeau was Bourgault's challenge to find a single instance where Trudeau ever cited a quote that wasn't in Bartlett's. Lots of people took umbrage but I don't think anyone ever found an example either.)

    What Trudeau really was, and I mean this as praise, was one of the sharpest retail politicians we've ever had in this country; a back-alley brawler who could go bare-knuckle against the best of them. The intellectual stuff was just window dressing. Dion and Ignatieff seem both to be destined to prove the adage, never bring an intellectual to a knife fight.

    • Bartlett's is pretty comprehensive.

    • I think (a) you are remembering Trudeau for what he was at the end of his career and not at the beginning and (b) you are mistaking a lot of the work his support did (including, ironically or not ironically, Keith Davey (father of Iggy's chief of staff)) for what Trudeau did.

      Trudeau, for example, hated retail politics and was never very good at it. He couldn't stand chit chat and was forced by his handlers to go through the motions, especially in the early years.

      • Dividing myth from reality with Trudeau is a long, long job and not something we could expect to do well here.

        But if what we mean by retail politics is kissing babies,aw shucks stuff and praising motherhood, no Trudeau didn't do a lot of that. But he was sold on a personal level, which is what the phrase means. He was sold as a cosmopolitan, urban-hip guy to a Canada that was primed to move beyond the folksy retail politics of Diefenbaker and "Mike" Pearson. Trudeau's appearance at the Grey Cup in that cape was retail politics par excellence. So was his Mercedes Sports car, the roses in his lapels and the pirouette. He did it and he was really, really good at it.

  10. Radwanski ripped me off! (kidding)

    Here's what I wrote three weeks ago:

    I completely agree with your last point about the "Liberal backroom boys". I think they've hijacked his brain. There's such a huge disconnect between Michael Ignatieff the Intellectual, who fearlessly expounded on every issue ("it's time to abandon the fantasy of the Royal Family"), and Iggy the Canadian Politician, who seems to be muted and cowed by his political masters and advisors.

    Here's what he wrote in today's piece:

    There are, it seems, two very different versions of Ignatieff making the rounds these days. There's Ignatieff the Intellectual, who surfaces in interviews with people like Gopnik referring to Isaiah Berlin by his first name and speaking in an oddly analytical, almost dispassionate way about himself. And then there's Ignatieff the Politician, who turns up at press conferences and stump speeches issuing stern but hollow warnings to the government, and pretending that issues like EI are what motivate him.

  11. Radwanski ripped me off! (kidding)

    Here's what I wrote three weeks ago:

    I completely agree with your last point about the "Liberal backroom boys". I think they've hijacked his brain. There's such a huge disconnect between Michael Ignatieff the Intellectual, who fearlessly expounded on every issue ("it's time to abandon the fantasy of the Royal Family"), and Iggy the Canadian Politician, who seems to be muted and cowed by his political masters and advisors.

    Here's what he wrote in today's piece:

    There are, it seems, two very different versions of Ignatieff making the rounds these days. There's Ignatieff the Intellectual, who surfaces in interviews with people like Gopnik referring to Isaiah Berlin by his first name and speaking in an oddly analytical, almost dispassionate way about himself. And then there's Ignatieff the Politician, who turns up at press conferences and stump speeches issuing stern but hollow warnings to the government, and pretending that issues like EI are what motivate him.

  12. Radwanski ripped me off! (kidding)

    Here's what I wrote three weeks ago:

    I completely agree with your last point about the "Liberal backroom boys". I think they've hijacked his brain. There's such a huge disconnect between Michael Ignatieff the Intellectual, who fearlessly expounded on every issue ("it's time to abandon the fantasy of the Royal Family"), and Iggy the Canadian Politician, who seems to be muted and cowed by his political masters and advisors.

    Here's what Radwanski wrote in today's piece:

    There are, it seems, two very different versions of Ignatieff making the rounds these days. There's Ignatieff the Intellectual, who surfaces in interviews with people like Gopnik referring to Isaiah Berlin by his first name and speaking in an oddly analytical, almost dispassionate way about himself. And then there's Ignatieff the Politician, who turns up at press conferences and stump speeches issuing stern but hollow warnings to the government, and pretending that issues like EI are what motivate him.

  13. "Ignatieff's promise has always been in his (potential) ability to rise above the fray, and to challenge us a little … adapting needn't mean abandoning what impressed people about you in the first place."

    This is funny to me simply because the same should be said of Dion. The problem is that MSM has pretty much demonstrated through the Dion vs Harper episode that it is not interested in substance and challenging discourse. No. What the MSM wants and praises are politicians like Harper a.k.a chess master.

  14. "Ignatieff's promise has always been in his (potential) ability to rise above the fray, and to challenge us a little … adapting needn't mean abandoning what impressed people about you in the first place."

    This is funny to me simply because the same should be said of Dion. The problem is that the MSM has pretty much demonstrated through the Dion vs Harper episode that it is not interested in substance and challenging discourse.

  15. "Ignatieff's promise has always been in his (potential) ability to rise above the fray, and to challenge us a little … adapting needn't mean abandoning what impressed people about you in the first place."

    This is funny to me simply because the same should be said of Dion. The problem is that the MSM has pretty much demonstrated through the Dion vs Harper episode that it is not interested in substance and challenging discourse. No. What the MSM wants and praises are politicians like Harper a.k.a chess master.

  16. The problem is twofold.

    (1) Ignatieff is a sharp intellectual. This could be very good for Canadian politics if his opponent was similar. The two could engage in reasoned debate about the issues that matter a la Lincoln/Douglas and thus raise the tenor of Canadian politics considerably.

    However, Harper is not suited for this. He's a no-holds-barred politician who learned how to play the political game by watching the likes of Chretien and later Martin as they promulgated the most idiotic fear-mongering to win elections (or election singular, in Martin's case). Debate with such an opponent won't work since he will resort to one-line messaging for votes at the expense of fair play and honesty.

    (2) Ignatieff seems unprincipled. This may be a misjudgment, but the accusations of opportunism concerning his return to Canada actually seemed to hit the mark, somewhat. His acceptance of the Liberal leadership without calling a vote reinforced this impression, along with his fair-weather support for the Coalition.

    Even if Harper were a Lincoln, Ignatieff would not even rise to the level of a Douglas, for he doesn't seem to hold any principles (however faulty or misguided) of his own.

  17. The problem is twofold.

    (1) Ignatieff is a sharp intellectual. This could be very good for Canadian politics if his opponent were similar. The two could engage in reasoned debate about the issues that matter a la Lincoln/Douglas and thus raise the tenor of Canadian politics considerably.

    However, Harper is not suited for this. He's a no-holds-barred politician who learned how to play the political game by watching the likes of Chretien and later Martin as they promulgated the most idiotic fear-mongering to win elections (or election singular, in Martin's case). Debate with such an opponent won't work since he will resort to one-line messaging for votes at the expense of intellectual clarity. He is a pragmatist who wants to put ideas into practice rather than illustrate them to the nation as a whole.

    (2) Ignatieff seems unprincipled. This may be a misjudgment, but the accusations of opportunism concerning his return to Canada actually seemed to hit the mark somewhat. His acceptance of the Liberal leadership without calling a vote reinforced this impression, along with his fair-weather support for the Coalition.

    Even if Harper were a Lincoln, Ignatieff would not even rise to the level of a Douglas, for he doesn't seem to hold any principles (however faulty or misguided) of his own. Any position that he takes, however erudite, now rings hollow.

    • I think you are very wrong about Ignatieff and principles and have bought entirely the Tory spin on this. I think we are seeing this come out bit by bit as more and more policy and priorities come out, like today's speech.

      On the other hand, is there a principle or promise left that Harper hasn't abandoned? He is the quintessential politician who comes riding in on a white horse, only to have the rain wash off the paint. He started breaking fundamental core promises on the very first day of his government (e.g. appointment of an unelected senator) and he has never looked back.

    • Okay, now this is reasonable. I'm not sure if Ignatieff is unprincipled as much as hemmed in by the realities of the situation. The Liberal party of the time simply couldn't afford yet another leadership campaign, especially in the heat of the Coalition which – to all appearances – he signed on to reluctantly and then killed at first opportunity.

      That said, like many intellectuals, he does attempt to look at both sides of the debate, which can lead to a sense of him being "wishy-washy" because he is rarely extremely firm about anything. Sadly, while this is an excellent trait for a negotiator or a diplomat, it's probably not the greatest trait for someone seeking election in the age of the 3 second media sound-bite.

    • Okay, now this is reasonable. I'm not sure if Ignatieff is unprincipled as much as hemmed in by the realities of the situation. The Liberal party of the time simply couldn't afford yet another leadership campaign, especially in the heat of the Coalition which – to all appearances – he signed on to reluctantly and then killed at first opportunity. (Personally, I think to the detriment of Canada.. hamstringing the Bloc while curbing the NDP's corporate class-war tendencies and creating a stable governing structure for Canada would have been, I think, the best scenario we can hope to accomplish while the Harper is leading the Reformists.)

      That said, like many intellectuals, he does attempt to look at both sides of the debate, which can lead to a sense of him being "wishy-washy" because he is rarely extremely firm about anything. Sadly, while this is an excellent trait for a negotiator or a diplomat, it's probably not the greatest trait for someone seeking election in the age of the 3 second media sound-bite.

  18. With regard to his speech, is anyone else STILL waiting to hear about his policy ideas for THIS country? Foreign policy is all well and good, but polls have shown that foreign policy doesn't rank in the top 10 things Candians are concerned about. I was disappointed that he seemed more concerned with what is happening outside Canada than with what is happening inside it.