Bob Rae is Stephane Dion’s worst political nightmare – and, yet, Dion seems to have no clue. I have no doubt that Rae will be leading the Liberal Party of Canada within a matter of months – I thought it would have happened by now, but I suspect the Lib powers-that-be decided it would be wise to wait until he actually has a seat in the Commons (only a couple of weeks away now…)
“ET”, a regular Small Dead Animals commenter who prefers to remain anonymous, wrote some excellent analysis this morning after attending the Toronto Centre All-Candidates debate last night. Since I couldn’t have said it better myself, here it is:
I went to an all candidates meeting in Toronto Centre last night. The St. Lawrence Theatre takes over 500, and it was packed. At first I thought I’d wandered into a British SitCom.
There was a troop of medallion bedecked grannies singing Songs of Peace.
Various impoverished and earnest activists, looking like Bertie Worster Without Jeeves – handing out flyers insisting that a basic income and house are a Human Right (particularly if both are provided by the Working Taxpayer. A deeply committed 9/11 Denier (It was Bush Who Did It). Others Against The Imperialist USA. Unreal.
Rae, on stage, is smug, smooth and polished. He deals with his Years of Deficit by removing it from criticism..by beginning his comments by a joking reference to it. That acknowledgment, which turns it into a joke, removes it from the table. How does he deal with Dion?
He deftly turns the tables. He accused both the NDP and CPC of having brochures that depict Dion in unflattering images, as weak, as.. The NDP countered that the images weren’t altered. Rae then acknowledged Dion as a ‘nerd’ but continued that it wasn’t ‘nice’ to focus on such personal things.
This ignores that he defines the CPC as The American Republican Party.
I got the impression – but I’m possibly biased as it is actually my opinion – that the Liberal Party is acknowledging Dion as a nerd and leaving him outside to play on his own in the sandbox. They can’t do anything about him. They dare not have an election now (to get rid of him) because their loss in seats would be far more disastrous to the Party.
So, they’ll let Dion make a fool of himself, with his claims that ‘we can’t have an election now because it’s snowing’. Or, ‘because it’s Easter’. But they won’t let him have an election (which he wants) because of that disastrous seat loss.
Therefore, they’ll put up with him, and even, isolate themselves more and more from him. Token acknowledgments as Our Leader. But, I’m saying the Real Leader is going to be Rae. And the image he’s going to present will be Experienced, Wise, Smooth and above all, Genial, Friendly, Open. Above all- open. In contrast to Harper’s shyness and ‘coldness’. Rae is going to be The Peoople’s Man.
Their other strategy is to define the CPC and Harper as Corrupt. Their tactic is endless accusations. All unfounded. But they don’t care; the Public Image promoted by their faithful MSM friends is all that matters.
Commenter Gord Tulk responds:
It is an interesting theory – sort of like the neutron bomb play – they are trying to kill off SD without destroying any of the party structure.
There are two key impediments:
1. Iggy – the party is still split and Iggy is working just as hard if not harder than Rae to succeed SD.
2. The irrelevance of the LP in Que. Unless they think that the pop changes are sufficient that they think they can win with the urban vote in Que (15 seats?) and toronto and vancouver. (it is ironic that they may be the first federal party to turn its back on QUE) Doubtful, and twits like trudeau won’t let them do it quietly.
And of course no one in the party has an answer to Rae’s ontario legacy. With liberal Dalton working on meltdown #2 – the echoes of Rae’s folly will become increasingly poigniant. As anyone who spend time talking to ontarions can attest, the memory of Rae has hardly faded at all.
And Rae’s laughing it off will be about as effective as Ted making jokes that he no longer drinks and drives.
To which ET responds deftly:
if the memory of Rae won’t fade, then why is he going to be elected on March 17th (I hope I’m wrong, but..).
I see Rae, as bluetech suggests – an Obama type.
In fact, my experience of that meeting last night, and admittedly it was only one meeting, was that it was HARRIS who was defined as evil, while Rae was defined only as a ‘spender’, but, heck, that’s life, that’s life.
The crowd seemed heavily NDP and Liberal and Green. I was surprised at the numbers; I got the sense that it was the same.. who always come…
Rae is being supported by the LLL (Leaside Lexus Lemmings) who are well-off, with govt jobs (civil service, health care, teachers) and who want this type of life with its unions, benefits, pensions to continue without any individual responsibility. He’s being supported by young people – that Obama idealism –
As for Ignatieff, my view is that he wanted an election now, to prevent Rae coming in. It might be hard for Rae to win in a general election but he’ll win that by-election. I’m going to suggest that Ignatieff will leave soon back to Harvard or other think tank. There is no role or future for him in that Liberal Party. And, having to sit beside Dion and rant at the CPC can’t be pleasant.
I think the BackRoom Boys of the Liberal Party have made a decision. The front room floor chose Dion – and they had no choice but to see if he’d work out. He hasn’t. They daren’t lose seats in an election. They have to rapidly insert a squeeky clean, genial, smiling, welcoming person – and that’s Rae’s Role.
Not Igatieff; he’s seen, now, as too cerebral and angry. Rae is The Pillsbury Man, he’s Obama, he’s kind and understanding and wants everyone to Love Each Other and Get Along.
Quebec. You’re right. They’re in trouble in Quebec. But, they’re going after Ontario and in particular, Toronto. They’ll be going afte Montreal and Vancouver.
In fact, I’m suggesting that Rae’s focus will be on the CITIES. He’s going to be the Minister of Cities – something the CPC should have set up LONG AGO. The Liberals are going to focus on seats in Montreal and leave the rest of Quebec to the CPC and Bloc.
Ted Kennedy no longer drinks and drives? So what, he’s still a Senator. And Rae’s laughing off the deficit will be viewed in a similar fashion. He’ll blame Harris, he’ll blame the federal govt; he’ll say he’s for the People.
Watch. My predictions:
1) Dion is going to be treated as the Liberal Nerd and left out to play by himself in the sandbox.
2) No election if the Liberals can help it until 2009.
3) Meantime, the Liberals will fling madeup scandal after scandal at the CPC, using their buddies the MSM, to set up an image of the CPC as corrupt.
4) Rae will be presented as the Genial, Wise, Kind, Open to All, Guy. The de facto leader, A Liberal Party that welcomes ALL (and that includes the ethnic vote).
5) Rae will be presented as the Minister for Cities and the focus will be on the vote in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.
6) Ignatieff will be offered some high academic or other position and will leave.
If the NDP have any smarts, they’ll call an election soon, to prevent this Liberal Agenda. Harper may try for an election, but the Liberals and Bloc will try to vote against it. He needs the NDP’s assistance.
My only quibble with ET’s analysis: it leaves out the fact that the Liberals have no money, and that all the leadership candidates from 2006 – including Rae – still have major campaign debts to pay. But this could only buttress the argument that the Liberal back-room boys will install Rae, foregoing the expensive leadership contest and convention.