Any Kind of Public Notice is Great!
We're obsessed, if you will, by outstanding political traits, somewhat less by recondite intellectuals. As politicians, that is. Connection is key. Communication with the electorate. Effective communication, paired with character, one that represents as intelligent and resourceful, committed and resolute, honest and reliable. It's that kind of public awareness that politicians who inspire trust in the public would ideally like to relay.
Which makes it all the more interesting to note how the political punditry have now assessed the performance of Michael Ignatieff as crowned leader of the Liberal party of Canada. Some recent comments are fairly riveting, in fact.
- George Jonas: Some say what Ignatieff has going for him is his head, inside as well as outside. ... As for what's inside his head, it's clearly more than enough for the office he seeks in terms of education and IQ, partly because he has plenty of both, and partly because the job, though tricky, is not rocket science. Ignatieff would probably beat the world's sitting prime ministers on a TV quiz show called How To Be a Prime Minister? - all except Stephen Harper. As luck would have it, Harper is the one for him to beat. ... But Ignatieff is running for Harper's actual job, the job for which qualities in which he's perceived to be deficient matter more to voters than qualities he's perceived to possess in abundance. ... Ignatieff may have his head going for him, but going against him are a collection of other body parts, notably his spine, guts and heart. He doesn't impress many Canadians as the guy they'd want next to them in the trenches. Add to this a further perception of Ignatieff as an inexperienced, narcissistic carpetbagger, and it's no wonder the smart money goes the other way.
- Adam Daifallah - Over the past six years, the Liberals have picked at least two leaders in a row that have failed the competence test, and perhaps three. ... Martin turned out to be an inept prime minister, so unable to take decisive action that The Economist derisively labelled him "Mr. Dithers". Stephane Dion was even more disastrous. ... At present, Michael Ignatieff seems headed for a similar fate. ... Of course, Ignatieff's poor performance and perceived incompetence is just one problem amongst many - many is why there is a silver lining in all this for the Liberals. Since they were turfed from power in 2006, many party members have been under the false impression that they would be out of power only briefly before promptly returning ... Canadians of all political stripes owe Harper's Conservatives thanks for making sure this did not happen for two reasons. First, by winning re-election in 2008, the Tories proved that their earlier win was not just a fluke and that Canada once again had a functional, two-party democracy. Second, a brisk return to power would have denied the Liberals the wilderness years needed to spur them to rebuild and reform their party.
- Fen Osler Hampson - Michael Ignatieff delivered his first major address on foreign policy as leader of the opposition earlier this month. ... Much of Ignatieff's speech was devoted to offering a long laundry list of initiatives that he would pursue if he were to become prime minister. Some are noteworthy but most looked like they had popped up in his rear view mirror. Ignatieff said he would champion the expansion of the G8 to include the countries of the G20 and also offer to host and fund a permanent G20 secretariat in Canada. ... The G20 has already replaced the G8 as the centre of gravity in dealing with the world's economic and financial problems. ... Ignatieff is behind the curve on this one. ... Ignatieff chastised the Harper government for not paying nearly enough attention to China and India. ... But the Conservative tap is now running hot - so hot, in fact, that after a flurry of high-level ministerial visits this summer Harper plans to buy his own plane ticket to Beijing if there is not an election. Following Washington's own strategic dialogue with India, Harper has raised the level of our engagement with exploratory discussions about a comprehensive economic partnership agreement and the opening of new trade offices in key Indian cities. ... On the U.S., Ignatieff promises to "renew our relationship" and to "engage Americans in strengthening not weakening the North American space". It is hard to see how Ignatieff could do any more than Harper is doing now to engage President Barack Obama, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. media. "Constant attention" is not the problem. Harper has launched a strategy of attrition political warfare with America.