Dion apologists are busy trotting out the line that Conservatives would have had just an easy a time defining Ignatieff or Rae. Who are they kidding? Sure with Rae there is a lot to work with, but Ignatieff did not give them much. What were they going to say? It is not as if they were going to claim that Ignatieff was as big a backer of the Iraq war as Stephen Harper. More importantly both would have been able to fight back and that matters. One reason that Conservatives were successful in defining Dion is, as I said, simple. His English is not good. People did not understand him or have to patience to listen to him and so turned to the Conservative translation instead.
Moreover, everything the Dion said and did fit perfectly with the Conservative caricature of him. They played him like a fiddle. The Conservatives painted Dion as an indecisive wimp. The worst thing Dion could do once the Conservatives started making everything into a confidence motion was to talk tough and then abstain. That is what a wimp would do. The worst thing Dion and Liberals could have done when the Conservatives started playing bully boy was to get high and mighty and self righteous, but that is exactly what the Liberals did every single time. (I am starting to think that the popping puffin was no gaffe but was rather part of deliberate attempt to emasculate Dion by having the media play it ad nauseum and having Dion and the Liberals get all huffy about it.) The way to handle Conservative bullying is to roll your eyes and mock them. Think of the fun Trudeau would have had with an – intellectual-- lightweight like Peter Van Loan. Tell John Baird that he looks like he is going to stroke and that putting Harper in sweater is about as strange a sight as Paris Hilton carrying around a dressed up pit bull instead of one of those puntable breeds. Do not demand an apology. An apology is what a wimp would ask for.
Then there is election itself. Dion said he was going to take the highroad and like any wimp he did. He wanted to show that if he could not beat Harper in the trenches at least he would show that he held the moral high ground. So instead of doing the smart thing and rolling out one hard hitting negative ad after another, Dion gave us the odd negative ad and a lot of sunshine, butterflies, flags and happy people. In other words, the Liberals rolled out just the kind of useless ads wimps would roll out.
What happened in the English debate was even worse. Dion needed to have some zingers reader. He needed to be brief and not verbose. He needed to hit Harper hard, the way big sister Elizabeth May did. Instead, Dion was hopelessly cheerful when not filled with righteous indignation. His accent was strong throughout, revealing why a bully might have taken notice of him in the first place. I thought I was watching a Conservative ad every time he spoke and “Do you think it is easy to make priorities?” stuck in my head the rest of the night.
So it is only fitting that Dion signs off by talking about the successful smear campaign against him and promising that he will do everything in his power to make to sure this does not happen to next Liberal leader. That is exactly what a wimp would do. But, fear not Stephane. The next leader won’t be a wimp.