David Akin has an exclusive interview with Missouri Republican organizer and Republicans for Ignatieff state chairman Yancy Williams, one of the (two?) R4Iers who was captured on film handing out stickers and signs to bemused passersby at the Missouri State Fair earlier this month. The whole thing is worth reading for armchair R4Iologists, but what ITQ found particularly intriguing was Williams’ explanation of how he came to be involved with the group:
Williams has no idea who “The Colonel” is behind the site but, when he first ran across the site in early August, it felt legit to him and so, after reading up a bit on Ignatieff’s positions, he signed on with the goal of helping a Canadian liberal, Michael Ignatieff, become the next Prime Minister of Canada. So if it is a spoof then the joke’s on me and, it appears, on Williams. “I have to admit, I was not fully educated on your [electoral] race,” Williams said. “But I signed up. And I got an e-mail back. They asked a little bit about me. I said, I work in politics. I’m a Republican. What do you need? And they said, “We’re not 100 per cent sure, right now but go try to talk to others and see what sort of support you can find and that’s what I did.”
If you read his other comments on Ignatieff, it seems pretty clear that everything Williams knows about Michael Ignatieff – and, indeed, the Canadian politic landscape, in general — he learned from R4I, which – I think it’s fair to say – is not exactly the most extensive — or objective — source of information available, which is why ITQ has submitted an interview request of her own, in hopes of digging a little deeper into his views on the man he wants “guarding America’s northern flank.”
How, she wonders, does Williams actually think that he — or any Republicans, really — can actually help Ignatieff get elected? It’s not like he — or any other American citizen — can donate money to the cause. Then there are all the fiddly little details that R4I has left out of its glowing profile of the man. Does Williams know that Ignatieff first supported, but subsequently denounced the war in Iraq? Or that he does not appear to share the Republican position on the use of coercive interrogation, at least as articulated by former vice-president Dick Cheney?*
Williams also seems oddly dismissive — or at least unaware — of the positions of the current prime minister, despite the fact that his views on energy security seem more in line with what Williams endorses in Ignatieff — vigorously, unapologetically pro-tar sands and pro-pipeline, with none of the occasional outbursts of equivocating that taking any strong stance seems to bring out in Ignatieff, although ITQ suspects that he may be just a teensy bit overly optimistic in his hopes that any Canadian political leader would adopt ‘Drill, baby, drill’ as an Arctic rallying cry, much less do so in order to create jobs for Missouri.
Still, it provides a wealth of new fodder for speculation, so feel free to have at it in the comments. ITQ, for her part, maintains her belief that R4I is an elaborate bit of political oeil-trompery from the left side of the ideological spectrum, although if she’s right, it seems a little cruel to lure in poor, well-meaning Republicans like Williams to act as unwitting players in their theatre of the politically absurd. Just think how crushed he’s going to be if he finds out the whole thing is just a dastardly liberal plot.
*On a related note, watch this space — well, this blog, anyway — for an upcoming post that will – ITQ hopes – lay out, once and for all, where every one of the leaders stands on the use of coercive interrogation/torture during wartime. So far, only one office has responded — OLO, which isn’t surprising, really, since you’ve got to think this is one of those questions that has come up once or twice in the past — but it’s early yet.