Michael Ignatieff’s highly overrated summer vacation
by Gerald Caplan
Michael Ignatieff’s interminable summer of small towns, small crowds and small media coverage is now over. Privately the man must be ecstatic. And yet all he has to look forward to is another session of parliament where he remains a lame duck to be constantly humiliated by new Government House Leader John Baird and Stephen Harper's other wild dogs.
He can say what he likes, but it's hard to believe that every day in every way, Mr. Ignatieff would not give the moon to regain his previous life. As a late-blooming politician, it's been a long, hard, often demeaning four years.
His fall from grace actually began shortly before his Great Canadian Adventure. While still a fashionable Harvard-based public intellectual who referred to Americans as “we,” Mr. Ignatieff had caused incredulity among many of his previous admirers – of whom I was among the fervent – by justifying both George Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq and his approval of torture. These positions haunt Mr. Ignatieff still, as they should.
Mr. Ignatieff’s plunge into partisan politics back home in Canada did not enhance his reputation. He was immediately complicit in violating the constitution of his chosen riding association when his backers unilaterally closed nominations well before the appointed time. This blatant attack on democracy, he insisted, was democracy in action.
Then came the insufferable unction. Every day, every event, every development, was the proudest of the new Michael’s existence. Never mind his previous lifetime of international celebrity and awards. Putting in his nomination papers (even unconstitutionally) was his proudest moment ever. So was the formal nomination meeting. So was being elected to Parliament. It was a wonder he could cope with the burden of so many firsts, poor chap. But the phony-baloney humility didn't work. He just wasn't a natural politician. For the life of him he couldn't fake sincerity.
Finally, though, destiny wove its predestined web. Mr. Ignatieff became Liberal Party Leader without a single vote being cast, very possibly a first in the long history of democracy. From there on up it's been downhill all the way. Soon the Ignatieff Liberals were being embraced by the same 25 per cent of the voters even Stéphane Dion couldn’t alienate. Facing the most dangerous Prime Minister in Canadian history yet sensibly terrified of forcing an election, Mr. Ignatieff allowed Mr. Harper to operate as if he had a majority government.
. . . Otherwise, it appears that his only real motive for wanting to be Prime Minster is that it would be a nice addition to his extraordinary curriculum vitae while keeping Bob Rae out. Who knows? Maybe that's a good enough reason, along with not being Stephen Harper.
Read more here. You really should.