10 thoughts on Bob Rae and what comes next

A roundup of pundits on news that Bob Rae may or may not be in the running

News that interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae is eager to make his gig full time and official prompted a swift reply from pundits in and around the Hill. What follows is just a sampling of the conversation:

Aaron Wherry, Maclean’s: “A year after a crushing electoral defeat, the Liberals are fussing over whether or not Bob Rae can run for the permanent leadership because he promised he wouldn’t when he accepted the interim leadership.  Is it possible we’re living inside the fourth season of The Thick Of It? The only way this would be better is if we all had British accents.”

Paul Wells, Maclean’s: “I’m afraid I’m not a believer. He has won one general election in his life. Twenty-two years ago. By accident. His instinct is to blur and dull policy distinctions at a time when the Liberals are one more blurring and one more dulling away from disappearing. But he certainly has a right to run if he wants.”

For more from Wells and Wherry, click here. 

Andrew Coyne, Postmedia: “It is hard to see how the national executive can relieve Rae of his promise, particularly since the promise was not made to them, but to others. Suppose it can. How does the unwillingness of the executive to hold him to his promise undo the reasons the promise was first sought — to avoid giving the interim leader an unfair advantage in the leadership race to follow? Why is what was unacceptable then acceptable now?”

Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun: “The question facing the Liberals is not whether Bob Rae should be allowed to run for party leader, but whether they can win with him as their leader.”

Matt Gurney: National Post:  “Mr. Rae has done an acceptable job as the interim leader and clearly enjoyed the role, and the backroom negotiating to clear his way to take over for real has been a known secret all along. So no surprises here. But what is interesting is that there is a hint that the Liberals are starting to recognize a vulnerability inherent to their leadership plans.”

Sonya Bell, iPolitics: “The ball was always in Rae’s court here. When Mike Crawley was running for Liberal presidency, he observed there are no legal rules barring any Liberal from running for the leadership. Rae had just said he wouldn’t – a gentlemen’s agreement. So how serious a breach is that, if indeed he runs?”

Colin Horgan, iPolitics: “I don’t see how Rae’s selection could be seen as “renewal” at all. But then again, as much as I think they need to worry about policy and what they stand for and all that jazz, they need someone who can communicate it well.”

Marni Soupcoff, National Post:  “What are the odds that a veteran silver-haired politician who has great name recognition but arouses little passion in anyone (except Ontarians with a long memory) would be the key to reviving the federal Liberal party? Pretty long, if you ask me. But of course the Liberals won’t ask me, and they seem set to go ahead and pull the usual political trick of flip-flopping on what they had previously said in no uncertain terms.”

Jeff Jedras, National Post: “For me, it boils down to this: 1. Rae absolutely is and should be allowed to run, and if the executive was to somehow say he couldn’t, I’d be the first to the barricades to fight that undemocratic decision. 2. Rae made a promise to Liberals that he wouldn’t run, it was a promised made for very good reasons, and I think he should keep his word.”

Adam Goldenberg, The Globe and Mail:  “Bob Rae can choose to make a dignified exit from the interim leadership, and rightfully share the credit when Liberal fortunes rebound in the next election. Or he can take one last run at the prize that has twice eluded him, and risk humiliation. That choice is his – not the national executive’s – and he should choose carefully.”