Thursday, June 18, 2009

Charles Adler knows best

If you did not hear this open letter to Michael Ignatieff on the radio, or did not read it at www.charlesadler.com, I strongly recommend it. Mr Adler said it far better than I ever could. I suppose that's why he's paid to be "the boss of talk" while I am just an opinionated citizen who receives no financial reward for blogging. I heard this on the radio, and I was on my feet applauding.


Hey Michael, when will you stop shooting at the Liberal brand?
Dear Michael,

It must be very strange being Michael Ignatieff. You are operating in your usual manner. Your M.O. has the same three-boned skeleton that is the architecture of your unreliable character:

1) No firm decisions;
2) No serious commitments;
3) No 100 percent certitude.

And yet this unreliable character has put you on the list of every wine and cheese party on the planet, this unreliable character has made you one of the world's leading public intellectuals, this unreliable character has gotten book reviewers to read your books and book readers who read the book reviews to buy your books, this unreliable character seems to be out of sorts with retail politics.

It must be strange having lived on this planet for nearly six decades and only just begun to realize that you are a wholesale dude - not a retailer. You really do belong to a select subset of the general public. But the all demanding, always fickle public seems to want far more than Michael Ignatieff is prepared to give.

The public expects you to lay out a vision of what you would do someday if Liberal activists and their media stooges get what they want, an Ignatieff government. Now in ordinary times a vision might not be all that important. There are times when the public just wants a manager to manage the status quo. But as you may have read Michael, the status quo isn't inspiring right now for many members of the general public, the ones who don't attend your wine and cheese howlers, who don't read your book reviews, who don't pretend to read your books. And so these poor sots are expecting that the dude who has been touted as this big brain, with a big heart, and a big, big database of phone numbers and email addresses that include members of Barack Obama's inner circle, well they are expecting a vision, a show, an attitude, a vibe, a feeling of change in the air, of an economic spring after a very long and dark and dank economic winter. Who can blame them?

Michael, you have talked incessantly about the Prime Minister giving you a report card on what his government is doing on infrastructure, on deficit, on EI, and on Isotopes. What have you been doing? What have you been offering for ideas, suggestions, a map that is coherent and accessible and motivational? Do you think if Rahm Emanuel, Obama's mainframe, main brain were to give you a grade, it would be anything above C Minus? Is the general public excited about getting to vote in another election, less than eight months after the last one, just to have the opportunity of voting for a C Minus Ethical Lightweight?

Michael, in recent days you have called on the government to spend, spend, spend, to try and get as much money into infrastructure as possible, knowing full well that government revenues are shrinking. You don't have to be a graduate of the Harvard Business school to know that when those great, big Ontario factories shut down and lay people off, they are going to be throwing off a lot fewer dollars to the treasury. And you don't have to be an Oil Sheikh to realize that when Alberta crude is selling for 30 and 40 and 50 bucks a barrel, it will be throwing off a lot fewer dollars to the treasury than a year ago when it was selling for 130, 140 and close to150. So Michael, when you look at the numbers, you quickly realize that even a ten-year-old with a Made in China calculator purchased at a Dollar store, can figure out that when you demand that the treasury borrow mega-billions for infrastructure and bailouts, while the same treasury is taking in much less money, it means that an airplane called government is going to fly into a great, big headwind called a deficit. And since you know at least as much as a ten-year-old Canadian kid with a one buck calculator, big deficits are inevitable under the current circumstances, so why are you blowing all this gas around about the deficit?

Now if you want me to treat you like a grownup Michael, I can throw some other metrics at you, the kind you would have to deal with if you climbed the staircase to a spot where you couldn't just offer political science seminars to media admirers and book reviewers. At the moment, we have a country where the unemployment rate is still going up, the debt to GDP ratio is going up, credit card debt and bankruptcies are going up, exports are going down, government revenues are going down and our trade deficit is going up. How are we doing so far? Which one of these metrics do you want to deal with if voters put you at the grown ups table?

Got a clever sound bite to offer on any of these real life concerns? This isn't the low-hanging fruit, like a five-hour tape of a minister gabbing with her flack and using the s-word as an adjective for the c-word. That's the easy stuff Michael. Do you have a plan if one day you have to take this huge Airbus called Canada through the turbulence I have just outlined? You can't solve the real problems by ripping and reading Toronto Star columns or feeding Jack and Gilles a couple of BLT's , and a case of Lager, and waiting for them to emit some carbon dioxide that you can sequester and then recycle at your next news conference. Have you noticed by the way, that even the media admirers are getting frustrated at those news conferences, waiting for you to own up to your real responsibilities, to come up with a better plan than what's coming from the government and then work to defeat the current government so that you can then rescue the country. That was the media narrative and there was always only one problem with it. They had you wearing the Superman cape and you apparently are something less than Superman, something less than Clark Kent, something less than what the carnival barkers at the Liberal convention said you were. Michael, you keep talking about the House not having confidence in Mr. Harper. You can prove that by engineering - vote against him. And I suppose you would if you were brimming with self-confidence. Is that where the real confidence problem lies? In your mind? In your heart? In your so-called guts?

Michael, one of the issues that you think you have a handle on is Employment Insurance. You were charming that snake for about a month before you abandoned it, like you do everything else. You were talking about how you want it to be a uniform approach in all parts of the country regardless of whether it's a high or low opportunity region. Ok, so you wanted us to buy into the idea that it shouldn't matter whether you are looking for work in the Greater Vancouver area or the Greater Moncton area. You ought to be treated the same way and if you worked at least 360 hours in any given year, that is if you worked nine weeks in any given year the taxpayers, the country ought to send you cheques for the rest of the year. Anyone understands why the NDP supports that and why the French version of the NDP, the BlocQuebecois, supports that. But for a while you were on board with that too. And I guess someone told you that you were being careless once again, having the left-wing, tail waggin' your Liberal dog in yet another three stooge coalition that really wasn't good for the party's reputation. The Liberal brand requires that it maintain - despite all facts on the ground - the appearance of being this natural, national governing party. With your clumsy handling of the EI file, you make the Liberal brand look like some little red wagon being pulled by two kids named Jack and Gilles.


Those members of the general public who don't read reviews of your books and don't pretend to read your books can read you pretty well at this point Michael. You're the guy who is willing to jump on or jump off any little red wagon depending on whether or not it's moving forward with you doing the least amount of pulling. On infrastructure and deficits, the wagon worked for you until the math just didn't add up. On EI, you're on the wrong wagon and you seem to have abandoned that one yesterday at your news conference where you no longer were demanding that Stephen Harper agree to your position on EI, which of course was never authentically yours anyway. The library card may have been yours, but the book you were borrowing from was authored by Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe. No wonder those two jokers can't stand you. You keep stealing their talking points and then dissing them and then ditching them.

I know this worked when you were a frat boy. But as a Political Strategist it doesn't inspire very much confidence. Oh, there's that nuisance word again. Confidence. You need some when you keep threatening to bring the government down. Around hump day of last week, you said you were waiting for the PM to release his progress report on infrastructure spending and you would grade it and decide whether or not to flunk your student Stephen Harper by pulling the pin on the government. Well the Prime Minister released his report. You said you would look at it, sleep on it, and make a decision on Friday. The decision you made Friday was to postpone the decision until Monday. You announced that you had decided to ask the Prime Minister questions and then Question period came along and you had no questions for him on EI or the Deficit or anything else having to do with Canada’s most important issue - not your book reviews - the Economy. No decision. No questions. You indicated you wanted to meet with the PM and excoriated him for not meeting with you. One of your admirers, Peter Mansbridge, asked if you had asked for a meeting. Apparently, you had not. And now that you have very publicly asked for one, you have gotten one.

Michael, now that you are getting to meet the Prime Minister, I would drop the threats. I would drop the idea of removing the Glock from the Holster. It seems every time you do that and shoot, you end shooting at your own message and your own credibility. Keep that pattern going and you run the risk of the Prime Minister publicly saying to you what I will tell you right now.

When you fire a weapon, the idea is to fire at your opponent. If you insist on doing away with yourself, do it behind the barn. The country doesn't want to see your pathetic DNA on the Prime Minister's Harry Rosen Suit.

I'm Charles Adler on the Corus Radio Network.

1 comment:

  1. Four words would describe all "Just an empty suit"

    ReplyDelete