Monday, September 14, 2009

On self-destruction

My first reaction to Michael Ignatieff's declaration that meetings with other party leaders are beneath him was to look at the event as an unforced error. But on further reflection, that's probably a serious understatement: instead, this is roughly the equivalent of Ignatieff rearing back, taking a mighty but ill-aimed swing, and knocking himself unconscious with his own racket while a set point sails merrily past him.

After all, one of the weaknesses which the Cons have tried to attach to Ignatieff has been an inflated ego coupled with a detachment from the reality facing most Canadians. Needless to say, that reputation will only be bolstered by his becoming probably the first Canadian political leader ever to declare that he has no intention of working with his peers. (Even Harper has regularly met with the opposition leaders - if only for show before he goes about doing what he planned to do anyway.)

And the image will only get worse when it's applied to more specific situations. The Bloc in particular has to be gleeful about sending the message that Ignatieff has publicly ruled out listening to Quebec (or at least the majority of the province's ridings that it represents) - and the NDP too figures to have some opportunity to pull votes from the Libs by pointing out a need to force Ignatieff to listen when he doesn't plan to do so if he can avoid it.

But then, Ignatieff can't exactly afford to backtrack from the statement either. However ill-advised it's been for him to make coalition-bashing into his preferred hobby, he'll only undermine his own credibility on that point if he backtracks from his current statement of unwillingness to work with the NDP and the Bloc. Which means that one way or another, Ignatieff's declaration that his fellow opposition leaders are unworthy of his time figures to open him up to nothing but trouble.

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