Friday, September 22, 2006

Appelez-Moi Robert

No one doubts Ignatieff will be leading after the first ballot, but given the last month or two, it's really hard to call the guy the frontrunner anymore in this race. And while I'm hesitant to put too much stock in polls like this, I think it's looking more and more like Bob Rae is the one to beat in this race. It's still a four man race, but Rae certainly has the big Mo right now.

Of course, with great expectations comes great scrutiny. The mainstream media has picked up on Rae's NDP donations and bloggers have been beating Bob up over the past few days.

While the NDP donations will upset some, I'm more concerned about Rae's constitutional flip flop. Here's what Bob said in August:

In an all-candidates debate only five of the 11 contenders attended, Bob Rae, Stephane Dion and Scott Brison said there is a need to recognize Quebec as a nation within Canada.

"I always supported the notion that a nation, it is a distinct society, which we need to recognize in our Constitution and I have fought for that," Mr. Rae said.

"The genius behind federalism is that we can be both a Quebecker and a Canadian."

Given my views on Quebec as a nation, it was disappointing to see this. Still, if you want to spin it as a positive, it just shows what a professional politician the guy is. He quickly bobbed positions when he saw an opening vis-a-vis Ignatieff and no one except a few punk bloggers has called him on it. The guy knows how to run a campaign.


  • I would have no serious objection to Bob's donations to NDP candidates in January, except that he admitted refusing to run as a Liberal candidate and didn't support the Liberals on the grounds that he needed to remain non-partisan due to his involvement in the Air India inquiry.

    The issue, as far as I'm concerned, is Bob Rae's hypocrisy, not Bob Rae's disloyalty. Between this and the constitutional flip-flop, he has rapidly shrinking credibility.

    However, I have no doubt some Rae supporter will explain how donations do not come within the definition of partisanship.

    By Blogger Winnipeg Liberal, at 12:53 a.m.  

  • You know what, I'm actually impressed by Bob Rae. Considering the load of baggage he is lugging around from his time as Ontario's Premier he's done well.

    No matter how people try to spin his time in office, it was a disaster and he knows it, that's why he's so defensive about it.

    Anyways, the fact that now he is almost the frontrunner for the Liberals shows that he is extremely adept at playing politics. Harper should be careful about getting too cocky with Bob. Then again, Harper shouldn't underestimate anyone in the Liberal leadership race.

    By Blogger Eric, at 1:10 a.m.  

  • The guy doesn't know the first thing about running a campaign. His 1990 victory for the NDP was about David Peterson and about the Conservatives not put back together yet. He has never one a campaign and, other than the gift of the gab and being clearly sharp and quick on his feet, I no longer see what anyone sees in him.

    His brother on the other hand knows how to run a campaign. And he almost pulled it off, this 'don't look at me thing' followed by the 'I'm just a Chretien-like skilled political pragmatist' theme. But the backlash on his constitutional flip flopping, which way is the wind blowing (policy and party wise) has in a very surprisingly quick way caught up to him.

    I mean, I'm sorry but Mr. Rae, we here served (and campaigned) with Jean Chretien, we knew Jean Chretien, Jean Chretien was a friend of the party. And Mr. Rae, you are no Jean Chretien.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 1:14 a.m.  

  • never "won" a campaign. Not one. But in my defence I skipped that class in grade 3 and the word has troubled me ever since.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 1:15 a.m.  

  • cerberus; I don't really want to defend Ray, but the gift of the gab and being quick on one's feet are two of the most important skills a politician can have.

    If Bob's going to get blamed for losing to Harris (as he should), he deserves some credit for beating Peterson.

    And, like southerontarioan says, he's probably had the best run leadership campaign so far. I didn't give the guy a chance in hell of winning this thing at the start of the race. But despite being as close to unelectable as candidates come, he might be the best bet to take it at this point. Give John Rae the credit for that if you want, but it's hard to deny the Rae team hasn't run a great leadership campaign (this week has been their first real setbacks).

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:48 a.m.  

  • Fred: I just like that he thinks the NDP is a charity case.

    CG: Agreed on political skills but it seems that that's all he's had. You know at the Vancouver debate, every candidate, like every candidate in every debate I've ever seen, had a policy binder with them. But not Rae. It's not that he knows his policy down cold. Listen to him closely: he's got great one liners but he's not saying anything.

    And suddenly he and his supporters have turned the idea of party renewal that has been fueling this campaign into meaning nothing more than winning. We will get massacred by Harper if we don't have some substance. Not just because Harper the Master Tactician will run circles around us, but because Canadians and particularly Liberals want something new which, in my opinion, is why Kennedy is so appealing to his supporters and why Ignatieff to his. Same old same old.

    The substance issue is particularly acute for Rae because if he's to lead us he's got to give voters enough meat that they forget a few disastrous years when he showed us what a Rae government could look like.

    And frankly, does anyone know where he wants to take the country? Does anyone have a sense of why he wants to be leader other than beat Harper? Every other candidate has set out large and clear themes.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 2:07 a.m.  

  • Even though I disagree with Kennedy on many issues and think he has about as much knowledge on foreign policy as a jar of pickles, I'd vote for him ANYDAY over Rae.

    If Iggy isn't going to be the next leader of the Liberals (my first choice) I'd want Kennedy. I don't think Kennedy could win the next election, but if anybody is a long term winner for the party and can probably grow and build the party over the next 4 years, its Kennedy.

    If Liberals want to think long term, I think Kennedy is the guy.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 8:41 a.m.  

  • who cares who wins? this is a lot of fun.

    Two anti-Bob posts in three days at CG.

    TDH begins the wooing of Kennedy.

    Cerberus is shedding his ultra-civility and fire a few shots across the bow.

    How can a political junkie, of any stripe, not enjoy this show?

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 9:17 a.m.  

  • to fire
    not and fire

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 9:17 a.m.  

  • I'm with you Cerberus - Rae definitely hasn't put nearly as much emphasis on renewing the party as other candidates.

    I've said all along that it's more important to rebuild the party than to (possibly) focus all out on the next election (I wouldn't classify myself in the group of 81% of Liberals who are confident we can win the next election).

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:51 a.m.  

  • "Harper shouldn't underestimate anyone in the Liberal leadership race."

    Dude, you've been drinking the Liberal Kool Aid. No serious Liberal blogger could say that.

    Somehow, I think underestimating Volpe as leader of the Liberal Party is pretty much consequence-free.

    All the leadership contenders would go up in esteem if Volpe and Fry dropped out of this campaign for leader. The LPC reputation suffers with them in it.

    By Blogger PlaidShirt, at 3:52 p.m.  

  • There's nothing amusing than Conservative hacks trying to goad the Liberals into choosing a candidate by saying "ooh, please vote for him."

    Anyway, judging by the standard of the other frontrunner, I'd take a little bit of hypocrisy over a foolish certainty any day. At least the former doesn't end up making you the favored candidate of the Inquisition.

    And let's be honest- from what I've read, the problems with the economy in Ontario at the time had less to do with Bob Rae and more to do with the sky high interest rates imposed on Canada by a lunatic Bank of Canada head; one who thought that he could impose zero percent inflation on the backs of Canadian consumers.

    All "Bob" did was try to weather the storm, and paid a bit too much attention to those who thought that it was something he could fix.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 4:06 p.m.  

  • I think the danger here is that few have actually attacked Bob Rae on his economic record in Ontario. This is off course understandable since each candidate understands they will need to throw their support behind whoever wins, however my concern is the Tories will bring it up during the election. I am not worried about losing Toronto or Northern Ontario, my concern is the 905 belt where a 20-30 point swing is not uncommon. Considering that area not only went massively for Harris in 1995, but again in 1999 and even in 2003 Eves still averaged over 40% meaning the area is probably if anything centre-right rather than centre-left. My worry is that Bob Rae could cost us seats here and if we lose the 905 belt, we lose the next election since there is no where else we can make that ground up plus the additional seats to defeat Harper. As for Rural Ontario, I suspect winning seats there will be a challenge no matter who we choose. If we could win just 1/3 of the seats in rural Ontario, I would be happy (right now we only have one out of approximately 30 ridings, which is Huron-Bruce).

    As for winning the next election, I would say I am in the somewhat likely category. I believe we have a good chance at winning, but I am not confident enough to want to bet a large amount of money on it.

    By Blogger Monkey Loves to Fight, at 11:41 p.m.  

  • I like Rae, I think he'd be a competant leader, but I ultimately am most concerned about his credibility.

    By Blogger Shawn, at 11:44 a.m.  

  • CG: You're not confident we could? Harper's had the floor to himself and I don't think he's done too much to win people over. It's surely winnable based on the circumstances leading in.

    By Blogger Shawn, at 11:47 a.m.  

  • The real irony I think is that, though you are right that as it stands today Rae is the one to beat, and though the reality after Super Weekend will be the same, the wheels will come off of the Rae campaign thanks to an ignorant media.

    Rae will finish third or possibily even fourth on Super Weekend and that is all the media will care about. "SHOCK: Rae finishes fourth" will be a paraphrase for some headlines if he comes in fourth.

    Notwithstanding that finish, it would be a close fourth and when one factors in ability to get delegates to the convention - a lot from Ontario and money to help with fees/big donors who can help with fees - Rae will still probably be in second going into the convention.

    However, our friends in the media will continue to be blind to the actual process and all they will want to write about is how Bob finished fourth, flew in way below expectations, finished fourth and did they mention that he finished fourth.

    Poor Bob, his status as a media darling has given him a huge boost in this race and now the ignorance of that media may well destroy his campaign because the press just doesn't see the big picture.

    By Blogger nbpolitico, at 12:52 p.m.  

  • Shawn - I don't think Harper has won very many people over, which is why he is not likely to get a majority, however I don't think he has scared off very many people who voter for him either outside of Quebec. The next Liberal leader is going to half to find a way to pull 3-4% who voted Conservative last election, which I think it is not too difficult to do, but it hasn't happened yet and it won't likely happen by solely relying on Harper to screw up. It will happen by offering a better plan than Harper offers.

    By Blogger Monkey Loves to Fight, at 4:06 p.m.  

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