I don't follow Canadian politics enough to have any informed opinion, but this Michael Ignatieff debacle--for anyone who has watched with disappointment and perplexity the path of the American center-left over the last couple of generations, doesn't this sound all too familiar? Educated, articulate, personable (in some circles) cosmopolite parachutes into the leadership of his party and promptly crashes then all into the deck of an aircraft carrier? What do we have here that we didn't have (to some degree or another) with Adlai Stevenson, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry and, yes, the great and floundering incumbent. People! There are no accidents! There is a pattern here! What we are selling, they ain't buying! It is way past time to start looking for candidates whose appeal extends beyond Harvard Square! How anybody could have thought for a moment that this almost-outsider could present himself as a bestowal upon the masses and--well, I suppose 20-20 hindsight is easy.
I'm exempting Jimmy Carter who I still think of as the greatest Republican president of modern times (and in any event, in the post-Watergate swamp, something of an accident). Also the much-misunderstood Bill Clinton, forgiven his Ivy degrees because at least he had the decency to be trailer trash (for extra credit, compare Bill Clinton and Britain's Lloyd George, each willing to throw away his opportunities for his own personal entertainment, yet each perhaps in many ways the shrewdest politician of his time).
I suppose for completeness I should rope in the other liberal (okay, Lib Dem) debacle of the week--Nick Clegg's humiliation in the British local elections, burdened with that whatever-it-is-but-don't-call-it-proportional-representation. But it is confusing. The liberals certainly have turned up some cookbook examples of the kind of dead-end nonsaleability of which I write here--Jo Grimond, Jeremy Thorpe. But I'm not so sure Clegg is one of them. On the surface he may have a bit of Stevensonian polish but at the moment he seems like nothing more nor less than a time-serving, self-serving toff.