Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Little Bit of Confusion

Props for Paul Wells, as mentioned below, for correctly calling the debate (with the exception of that continuing insistence that non-Iggy candidates will be able to control the bleeding if they try to throw to Mr. "Four positions, one week".

Warren Kinsella, well, not so much. I know I harp on the guy a lot, but he illustrates something amusing. First, this quote:

Okay, I think I’ve got it all figured out. Call it my pre-Halloween Political Analysis©. After attending the Liberal leadership thing in Toronto – and after reading the learned assessments of the punditocracy, wherein you will find as many opinions as there were journos in attendance...
See, that's the interesting part, especially for those of us who are interested in damage control. There really only seems to be two interpretations out there of the debate on Sunday.

The first is that Bob Rae won the debate. Even if it doesn't help his position, pretty much everybody in every camp and most of the journos I've read have said as much.

(Don't have much personal contact, so maybe Warren is up on me that way. He's the experienced insider, as he so often reminds us.)

He not only won it, but Ignatieff lost it, and badly, thanks to that foolish little whinge on foreign policy that Wells highlighted.

The other interpretation? You can see it over here on Redtory's site, but Warren provides a pithier version: "Who won? Beats me." Thing is, the only people who I've read this from are outspoken Ignatieff supporters like Red Tory. I suppose Warren is in that camp now, too.

Except the TRULY odd thing is that atop of that little "yawn" spin, we read this:

[Liberals are afraid]

-That Michael Ignatieff is too right wing, like Turner or Martin, or too academic, like Kim Campbell;

-That Gerard Kennedy is too bland, like Al Gore, or too incapable of French, like Preston Manning or John Crosbie;

-That Stephane Dion is too French, like Gerard Kennedy is too English;

-That Bob Rae is too much like an NDP Premier who lengthened and deepened a recession, laid off thousands of nurses, oversaw countless businesses shutting down, caused massive economic and social dislocation, seemed indifferent to one of the most scandal-plagued administrations in Ontario history, and only tore up his NDP membership card when it had taken his ambition as far as it could reasonably go. You know, that Bob Rae is, um, still Bob Rae.
Ok, now let's look at the rest of that other comment:

Went to the Liberal leadership forum thingie at Roy Thomson Hall. I walked in with Ignatieff's convention co-chair, stood with the Dionistas and loitered with the media.
Notice who's missing? That's right! Kennedy and Rae. The clear appeal to impartiality falls down, and were Kinsella backing Dion, he wouldn't be pulling that ridiculous "beats me" stunt or trying to assert that there wasn't a clear consensus. After all, the consensus isn't just that Rae won, but that Dion put in a pretty fine performance, yet we see not a word of that on Mr. K's little site.

What we do see is a loud invective against Bob Rae, blaming him for a recession which, according to pretty much everything I've read about Ontario's economy, has more to do with soft American demand for Canadian manufactures than anything else. Rae was in the unfortunate position of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; kind of like Kinsella's nemesis Paul Martin, who was left to clean up the dirty laundry that Kinsella's boss left behind.

I mean, were Kinsella at all inclined towards critiquing Ignatieff, he wouldn't have tried to play the "ambition" card against Rae, of all people. Ignatieff is the one most vulnerable to that charge; the only way this sort of ploy makes sense is as a kind of Rovian innoculation against criticism by going after the other guy for the same thing. Nice, although I doubt it'll stick in this case.

So what causes that "little bit of confusion"? Well, this last bit here:

The problem is that Stephen Harper doesn’t really scare Canadians anymore, or possibly never did. That’s the Grits’ problem.
That latter assertion is just silly. Yes, the Liberals did successfully paint Harper as scary in 2004, and that fear of an "agenda" is probably a major reason why Harpers' minority is as utterly weak as it is. That's not what's confusing, though. What's confusing is that this is yet another indicator that Kinsella's true loyalty is to Harper, as (as is always the case) he never wastes a breath that could be used praising Steve to the high hills.

So he's, apparently, cryptically supporting Ignatieff (the most right-wing Liberal candidate) while at the same time talking up Harper, and going after Rae for daring to have once been a Social Democrat during a recession. He certainly claims to be a "Calgary communist" and a small "l" liberal, yet appears to be doing his best to make sure that the Conservatives retain power and the Liberals shift in a conservative direction.

So I guess that leads to the big question: am I confused about his liberalism, or is he?

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