Why Michael Ignatieff should be more like George Costanza

Or Corp. Klinger, cause taffeta works wonders on tall men.

It’s been a rough go for Michael Ignatieff. He came into political life like some suave fella all full of brains and handsome and by now he’s got to be feeling like Sideshow Bob being smacked in the face with the sixth rake and, oh, look, there’s three more lying there on the ground.

There’s no denying it: Ignatieff is in a tough spot right now. He’s so low in the polls that he can see Gilles Duceppe’s bald spot. But you know who else is often in a tight spot? Sitcom characters. And yet they always seem to finagle their way out of it. Maybe it’s time for Michael Ignatieff to stop following the advice of political strategists and start learning from the titans of the small screen.

Tip No. 1: Do the opposite of what you’d normally do (George Costanza/Seinfeld) – George was the ultimate loser until he started denying his every impulse. Doing so made him attractive and popular. So when Ignatieff feels the urge to issue another ultimatum or threat, he shouldn’t. When he’d normally skew toward hyperbole, he should pursue measured discourse. And when he thinks the eyebrows are good for another couple weeks, no, time for a trim.

Tip No. 2: Get Peter Frampton to serenade Canada with the song Baby I Love Your Way (Peter Griffin/Family Guy) – After golfing on his anniversary, Peter has an epiphany (thanks to a lighting strike and, indirectly, Death’s hectoring mother) and realizes how important his wife is to him. He wins her back by enlisting the strumming services of the 1970s’ rock icon. Ignatieff needs to execute a similarly showy display of affection for Canada. Because we’re a generous people, Canadians will also accept the boom-box-above-the-head-playing-Peter-Gabriel approach.

Tip No. 3: Dress like a woman (Corp. Klinger/M*A*S*H) – Okay, this never actually paid off and Klinger never actually got out of the army, but bottom line is taffeta works wonders on tall men.

Tip No. 4: Pretend to be gay (Jack Tripper/Three’s Company) – Confronted by internal dissent? Under attack for your poor performance in the polls? Caught putting the moves on a hot blonde?  Jack Tripper taught us that no mess is too far gone that it can’t be saved with some exaggerated limp-wristedness. Ignatieff can start by declaring the next budget faaaaahbulous and asking his caucus to make the Mr. Roper “Tinkerbell” gesture in his presence. Also, more pratfalls. One complicating factor: Declaring that the kisses are hers and hers and his moves the Liberals uncomfortably close to socialism.

Tip No. 5: Wear an onion on your belt (Grampa Simpson/The Simpsons) – Because that was the style at the time.

Tip No. 6: Order live turkeys to be thrown from a helicopter (Mr. Carlson/WKRP in Cincinnati) – As God is his witness, he thought an election on the issue of Employment Insurance would fly.

Tip No. 7: Wake up to discover it was all a horrible dream – Worked for Bob Newhart.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.