Susan Delacourt ran down a litany of dissenters in the Liberal blogosphere over Ignatieff and the Liberal caucus' decision to support the Conservatives on Bill C-15, which institutes mandatory minimum sentences for offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Next Conservative blogger Steve Janke is encouraging them to get off their computers and really revolt if they mean it (and then double-dares them, when a few folks take him up on the first challenge by reporting that not one person writing on the in-house Liberal listserv En Famille is supporting the C-15 decision).
But now they're being joined by Martin-era speech-writer and Macleans columnist Scott Feschuk:
"Mess with me and I'll mess with you." "I can take a punch." It's beginning to seem that Ignatieff considers his position as party leader less a job to do than a role to play. He behaves the way he thinks we expect politicians to behave. He makes the empty promise. He utters the empty threat. He's so determined not to be defined as Prof. Tweedy McMonocle that he's inadvertently becoming the next can't-miss WWE villain: the Hyperbolist.
Michael Ignatieff knows that there are limits to what government can or should try to accomplish. But he's been promising pretty much everything to pretty much everyone-because, hey, that's what politicians do. He is capable of making thoughtful interventions, but he's been resorting to prosaic colloquialism-because that's what politicians do. You half-expect him to turn to the camera and say: "I'm not a two-dimensional caricature of a modern politician, but I play one on TV."
Ignatieff is widely perceived as a deep and respected thinker. But if you actually listen to him these days, you're likely to conclude that the problem isn't that he left Canada for 34 years. The problem is that his intellect failed to clear customs on the journey home.
On the Liberal website, the leader stares into the camera and offers Platitude No. 326 from the Politicians' Pantry of Empty Rhetoric. "We need a new kind of politics," he says. Really? Again? Man, they sure don't make kinds of politics like they used to.
Meanwhile, Ignatieff's major addresses over the past couple of months read almost as parody-a long list of what a Liberal government would do followed by a comically incongruous reference to how governing is about making "hard choices." When we're together, everything will be great and perfect and also shiny. It's not so much a vision of Canada as it is the chorus of every Céline Dion ballad.
The Conservatives seem vulnerable. They're down in the polls-especially in Quebec, where they're about as popular as certain forms of hepatitis. Perhaps Ignatieff senses the moment. He wants to take advantage. And he doesn't want to risk blowing it by asking anything of us or making us, you know, think.
We get that Ignatieff is smart. But maybe he should consider that some of us might be, too.