Thursday, May 26, 2011
Rae To The Rescue
The Liberals have chosen wisely -- although there are those who wonder if Bob Rae has been equally wise. His is a daunting task. For the immediate future, he leads a party which was decimated at the polls, is woefully short of resources and -- when the Prime Minister axes the per vote subsidy -- will be even more bereft of resources.
Stephen Harper has been out to destroy the Liberal Party ever since he arrived in Ottawa. Bob Rae's job is to make sure that doesn't happen. And, as dark as things seem, the truth is that Rae -- at this point in time -- is the most important resource the Liberal Party has.
Conventional wisdom holds that the Prime Minister will love to go up against Rae, because Rae's record as Premier of Ontario will give Harper piles of ammunition. The truth, however, is that Harper's most trusted ministers -- John Baird, Jim Flaherty and Tony Clement -- are retreads from the old Mike Harris regime. They left all kinds of debris behind them -- and Rae knows where all the garbage was dumped. Moreover, Rae is a much better politician -- and a much more accomplished communicator, in both languages -- than anyone on the Conservative benches, including the Prime Minister.
Rae's real advantage is his character. He's known difficult circumstances and he's had time to reflect upon defeat. Unlike Stephen Harper, he has not always gotten his way. Through it all, he has never become cynical. Harper is nothing -- his recent Senate appointments underscore the point -- if not cynical. In the end, Rae's optimism can trump Harper's puritanical hypocrisy.
And Rae has another truly appealing characteristic: he has a quick and ready sense of humour. Rumour has it that Stephen Harper also has a sense of humour. But few have seen it. Unfortunately, Harper fits the stereotype of the dour, well fed Conservative. The Liberals do not possess the vicious attack machine which Harper has had at his disposal. But someone like Bob Rae can make Stephen Harper look ridiculous.
No, uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.