The Harper Spin Machine marked Michael Ignatieff's return to Harvard this week by releasing an attack ad which it didn't use when he was Liberal leader. The idea was, "We told you he was just visiting."
Ignatieff's return to Canada turned out to be a very bad idea -- both for him and for the Liberal Party. Andrew Cohen writes in The Ottawa Citizen:
If he had wanted out three years ago, who could blame him? And now that he is leaving, who can blame him? What is there left for him in Conservative Canada except tears, taunts, cries and laments?
His political sabbatical was a disaster. He led the Liberals to the worst defeat in their history – worse than 1958, worse than 1984 – becoming the third party in Parliament, unprecedented in their long history.
Under Ignatieff, the party went from official opposition to prospective oblivion. If the Liberals run third again in the next election, behind the New Democrats, there will be pressure from progressives to merge with the NDP, as there was in 2011. And that will be the end of the Liberal Party of Canada.
When the Liberals convinced Ignatieff to return, they were repeating the same strategy they used when they convinced Mackenzie King -- comfortably ensconced in the United States and working for the Rockefellers -- to return and save the country form Robert Borden and Arther Meighen.
But, unlike King, Ignatieff had been away too long. He had lost his feel for the country. Moreover, King was a consummate politician. Ignatieff was a teacher.
So Ignatieff has gone back to the comfort of teaching in the Ivy League. And the Conservatives have gone back to their old attack ads -- which always revealed more about them than they did about those they targeted.
They are still grasping, grungy and -- when they succeed -- gloating.