Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NY Times & Manhattan Blog Laud Ignatieff - Comparisons to Obama

I heard this on the radio yesterday, about a NY Times article on Ignatieff entitled: "Running On Book Sense And Charm" and about a popular NYC blog called gawker posting an entry with the title: "Is Michael Ignatieff Canada's Barack Obama".

The comparisons are inevitable, Canadians often use the U.S. as a measuring stick, especially with politicians. I myself couldn't resist Iggy-Obama musings back on December 10th when I posted this entry: Will Canadians Get Jiggy With Iggy

Now that we've seen far more of both Ignatieff and newly installed President Obama...I don't think the comparisons hold water at all. Barack Obama is hip and cool in ways that no 61 year old former career academic can be. On top of that Obama's speeches can send chills down my spine, his keynote address to the Democratic convention in 2004 is still one I enjoy listening to. Ignatieff is far too pragmatic and middle of the road to stir any passion. Obama is willing to stake out his ground and lead, Ignatieff strikes me as one who prefers to keep his options open while he surveys the lay of the land.

Its a function of two different cultures. Americans believe in E Pluribus Unum, or "out of many, one". Canadians though take one and make many. Despite his popularity here, I highly doubt a leader of Obama's stature could ever emerge on the Canadian political scene. Imagine Obama addressing a cross section of Canadians and trying to unite us in common purpose as he did at the 2004 DNC.

"We are one nation, one people".
Comment? Je comprends pas, il faut le dire en francais M. Obama!!!

If Obama tried to bring Canadians all together under one tent, Quebecers would say they need their own tent. After proving their constitutional right to such a tent Alberta would start muttering under her breath about how Quebec always gets preferential treatment. Obama is in favour of restricting access to Late Term Abortion, so he'd be tarred and feathered by the Pro-Choice Lobby here.
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Our political cultures are different. While American politicians are constantly talking about the divisive nature of partisan politics, we in Canada have it entrenched in our system. Newfoundland MPs wishing to vote against the Conservative budget required special dispensation from Ignatieff or ran the risk of being kicked out of the Liberal caucus, or even possibly the party.

I'd like to see more passion from our politicians, and passion combined with intellect is a winning combination. But Ignatieff strikes me as far too cautious to be passionate about anything. I think his book: "The Lesser Evil" says it all. Rather than stake out ground on principal and conviction Ignatieff prefers to seek middle ground...which actually has been the secret to Liberal success for the better part of our history.

Barack Obama he ain't.

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