Friday, October 13, 2006


I learn from Paul Wells that Michael Ignatieff will deliver "a major policy speech" at noon today. The location? University of Toronto's Innis College.

It strikes me, and probably others, that while three of the four leaders in the Liberal leadership race hold Ph.D's Ingnatieff is by far the most professorial of the bunch. While Dion and Rae are clearly intelligent men, their intellectual experience augments their political experience, principally because they have political experience.

I am a great believer in the idea that political leadership in a democracy does not require specifically political office holding experience. I think that candidates should be able to put themselves forward for public office and be judged on their general merits of intelligence, common sense, and ability to reasonably govern in the interest of all their constituents. I generally deplore the modern tendancy toward 'professional politics' and the idea, often advocated by Calgary Grit (just to pick on someone) that our leaders require experience in lesser political offices.

Ignatieff however is doing his best to undermine my belief. My guess, based solely on Ignatieff's public performances, is that he recognizes the world of politics is not the same as the world of academia and is therefore trying too hard to be a politician. This leads him to think that he needs to say what his particular audience wants to hear, because he thinks that is what politicians do (to be fair it often is). Then he discovers that he has ignored his own iternal logic, i.e. he's not losing sleep over war crimes because they weren't real war crimes, and worse, his remarks have not been isolated to one lecture hall.

In effect, Ignatieff is a professor performing as a politician instead of allowing his professorial experience to inform his actual being a politician.

Amost immediate update - Barely related thoughts and speculation:

The problems of "professor performing as politician" were taken up with great narrative results in the third (and last decent) season of The West Wing. Fans should re-call specifically the espisode combination of "The Two Bartletts" and "Night Five."

Pure speculation: Are there any parallels between what kind of leader Ignatieff might be with the kind of leader the most professorial of American president's, Woodrow Wilson, was?

Posted by Matthew @ 11:21 a.m.

Read or Post a Comment

Professional politicians make me very bitter as well.

The reason for that is that whatever they do or say, I feel like they're just playing the game of politics rather than, who knows, say... leading the nation.

By visibly buying into the game, Ignatieff really loses any appeal he may have gained by being relatively new to politics.

Posted by Blogger Cam Smith @ October 13, 2006 2:04 p.m. #

Iggy's downtrodden friends get jiggy.

Religion of Peace chalks up another 9 'confirmed kills'.

The 'involuntary martyrs' are, at this very moment, lounging gratefully at the foot of the prophet.

There was no immediate word on the religious ectasy of the remaining horribly maimed survivors.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ October 13, 2006 3:17 p.m. #

Watching the LPC leadership from the sidelines as I am, I see Ignatieff as (pardon the wince) "Trudeau-like", insofar as he appears intellectual and professorial in a way that the leaders since Trudeau - Turner, Chretien and Martin - just aren't. That quality conflicts sharply with what you've observed, his "trying too hard to be a politician", which is one thing Trudeau never did.

Not that I'm an unvarnished admirer of Trudeau, but he certainly followed his own lights.

I wonder if Ignatieff, having recognized what's at stake (the leadership), is learning to mistrust his instincts.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ October 14, 2006 9:14 p.m. #
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