I take it back, Iggy couldn't win an election
Michael Ignatieff hadn't gaffed for a while. I thought maybe, just maybe, he was learning from his early mistakes. But I suppose the two month gaffe timer was up.
Don Newman on Politics reports that Ignatieff referred to Israeli actions in Lebanon earlier this year as a war crime on a TV show in Quebec over the weekend, costing him Thornhill MP Susan Kadis' support for his leadership.
To me it is not so much the issue of Ignatieff calling Israel's actions war crimes. I can deal with that opinion. It's the constant changing of opinion that worries me. His office apparently immediately issued a clarification, stating that while he had prefixed his comment that Israel's actions were war crimes with a reminder of his expertise in international law, he didn't really mean it that way. Way to take a principled position and stick to it.
He started off by commenting that he wasn't losing any sleep over the fate of the Lebanese. It was probably quite honest, I'm sure he was sleeping just fine, as were most people not directly involved in the conflict. But it is still a dumb and insensitive thing to say.
After having a weird disagreement with his campaign chief over the reason for his extended absence to Eastern Europe during the crisis, he noticed that the comment about losing sleep was not going over well. Oops, better retract it. Now he is going off the other end. Instead of showing reckless disrespect for the Lebanese side of the conflict, he is calling the Israelis war criminals. In so doing he has managed to piss off both sides, rather than neither, and that is hardly a leadership skill worth rewarding.
Liberals must not elect this gaffe-prone time bomb as our leader if we hope ever to win an election. Crashing haphazardly from gaffe to gaffe through a federal election campaign would be fatal for the party and is something we truly cannot afford. Did we not learn anything from the disaster that was Paul Martin, whose name no-one even dares mention any more? Have we not had enough of "oops"-based policy?
While the Ignatieff supporters who have gone blind with faith in their holy leader will dismiss this as just the machinations of a supporter of another leader, I urge those whose minds continue to be open to seriously think about the ramifications of Ignatieff as a leader come the next federal election, almost certainly just around the corner from the convention.
Those wishing to prop up Ignatieff at the cost of others will state that Dion gaffed by not voting in the opposition motion compelling the government to meet its Kyoto targets, ignoring the resounding success of that vote, Dion's prior obligations, and his presence at the parliamentary committee meeting on the same day grilling Rona Ambrose. These same people will probably also call Bob Rae's skinny dipping on the Mercer Report yesterday a gaffe equal to his proportions. Really, though, it was a hilarious and totally harmless stunt.
It can be acceptable to gaffe in a campaign, once. Apologise with a sincere smile and move on, or possibly even stick to your principled guns. From what I have seen, more damage is created reacting to a gaffe than is normally created by making one in the first place.
Those considering supporting Ignatieff should pause and think: is drunken lurching from gaffe to gaffe really what we want in a leader, no matter what his intellectual credentials?
Posted at 16:50 on October 11, 2006
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