The National Post actually published a fairly flattering piece on Michael Ignatieff and his summer pre-victory tour.
The wheels have not come off the Liberal Express bus, prone to breakdown though it may be. If he loses the next election, the Liberal leader may yet return to the ivory tower, but for now he is showing a stamina and resilience that has even surprised his political opponents.
On the evidence of day two of his summer tour around the barbecue circuit, this is a much more humble Michael Ignatieff than the man who came back to Canada after three decades away and presumed to tell Canadians how the country should be run. He may still believe that to know him is to love him but at least he now pays lip-service to the belief that "it's not just about me."
He has spent the day telling small groups of Liberals along the shores of the St. Lawrence River why the time is right for a "responsible, compassionate, progressive government ... a positive vision, a hopeful vision" as an alternative to Stephen Harper's "politics of the grudge." For the first time since watching him at his nomination meeting in Etobicoke-Lakeshore in the winter of 2005, I get the sense that he now understands in his bones why he is back in Canada -- that there is a purpose, other than because being prime minister would be the crowning achievement on an already storied resume.
And in a crazy kind of parallel universe, the Toronto Star got a dressing down for resorting to mindless gossip. Not that the Star are pro-Michael. They are usually fairly balanced. But they published an article without one single source.
And Dan Gardner brings up an interesting point. The Reformers are constantly belittling Michael Ignatieff because he taught (headed up his department) at Harvard, and yet praise the new GG because he attended.
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his pick for governor general would be David Johnston, Conservatives did not mock Johnston for having attended Harvard University. Indeed, some mentioned this fact respectfully. AsFollow the Liberal blog that chronicles their tour. It's like adrenaline for the soul.
if it's a good thing. This is remarkable because, as Aaron Wherry of Maclean's documented with a long list of quotations, the Conservatives have for several years been incapable of saying the word "Harvard" without sneering.
Of course the explanation for this change of heart is a change of circumstances. The Conservatives have cast Michael Ignatieff as an elitist intellectual who spent most of his working life outside Canada and the fact that he was, before returning to Canada, a Harvard professor, made sneering references to "Harvard" -- always with curled lip, occasionally with raised pinky -- the perfect summation of this charge. But as Stephen Harper's pick, David Johnston must be, ipso facto, a man of accomplishment and distinction. And so what is ridiculous for Ignatieff is praiseworthy for Johnston.
.... That is all too normal, unfortunately. The power of cognitive dissonance, and the capacity of people to fool themselves, should never be underestimated. I am confident Conservatives sincerely believe David Johnston and Mark Carney are supremely qualified but Michael Ignatieff is hopelessly unfit. And I am sure they have an exquisite rationalizations for why this is so. Please send them to the e-mail below. I assure you I will read them. And smile.
For me, I'm going back to bed. This National Post thing has me completely frazzled.