Ignatieff positioning himself for Dion's fall

No.2 man in last Race is getting his ducks in line for another run at the job he really wants

Proche-Orient : mensonges, désastre et cynisme

Surely it is just a coincidence. But as Stphane Dion continues to flounder as Liberal leader, the runner-up to him at the leadership convention less than a year ago has surfaced in mid-summer with a big splash.
On the weekend, Michael Ignatieff provided the members of his party with some summer reading in the form of an article in the New York Times Magazine, in which he shared some of his recent, typically deep thoughts.

And about what has Ignatieff been thinking? Well, for one thing, Iraq. Ignatieff has come around to realizing he was mistaken to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq. So he has finally caught up with the rest of the Liberal Party, although that's not the reason he gives for realizing he was on the wrong side of the question.
Rather, Ignatieff said he had allowed himself to be swayed by his emotions after seeing what Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had done to the Kurds and concluding Hussein had to be removed from power.
Too few politicians are willing to admit to being wrong. And it was fitting that Ignatieff do so in the U.S. magazine that had published his earlier justification of U.S. actions in Iraq, even at the risk of reviving suspicions that he identifies more with the United States than with Canada. Anyway, Canadians had been tipped off in advance about the article by a story in last Thursday's CanWest papers, including The Gazette.
But Ignatieff's point about Iraq was reached only after a lengthy, meandering rumination on another subject to which he appears to have devoted even more thought recently: political leadership.
Ostensibly, he was sharing the lessons he had learned in active politics. But those lessons had little to do with representing the constituents in the Toronto riding who elected him as their member of Parliament less than two years ago.
Rather, they mostly concerned the responsibilities of political leadership. The politicians he cited as examples were all leaders, and the kinds of decisions he mentioned were those made by heads of government, not ordinary MPs.
It's not surprising that an MP not yet halfway through the normal duration of a first term should already be preparing himself in public to shoulder the burden of leadership.
After all, this is Michael Ignatieff, who was sufficiently presumptuous only last year to offer himself as a candidate for the leadership of a country from which he had been largely absent. And the only reason he is an MP is that it is a prerequisite for the job he really wants.
That job is currently held by Dion, who won it against Ignatieff on the final ballot at the Liberal leadership convention in Montreal last December.
But Dion's grip on the leadership has been shaky from the start, as shown by the fact it took him four ballots at the convention to win. He was the first choice of only 18 per cent of the delegates, meaning he started out as leader with 82 per cent of the party having reservations about him.
He then enjoyed only the briefest of post-victory honeymoons with the general electorate. In French Quebec, the most recent polls show the Liberals to be mired firmly in third place, and the native son Dion to be the least popular party leader in Parliament.
When the Liberal leader trails an Albertan Tory, a Toronto NDPer and a separatist on the best-PM measure," SES Research pollster Nik Nanos recently wrote for Sun Media, "it has to be pretty grim."
And a defeat in the Sept. 17 by-election in the Liberal stronghold of Outremont for Dion's handpicked candidate, Jocelyn Coulon, would probably be interpreted as a rejection of the Liberal leader himself.
Despite Ignatieff's gracious concession speech at the convention, it soon became apparent neither he nor some of his supporters, especially in Quebec, had given up hope for a second chance at the prize.

History teaches us a would-be leader who waits until the post is vacated to begin campaigning for it usually loses. Ignatieff's article doesn't mention that lesson, but its very publication suggests it's one Ignatieff has learned.
([You can read Ignatieff's article at tinyurl.com/3y4zko->8029])

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