Friday, December 19, 2008

Lightening up

Why did I find myself laughing heartily through parts of this CP report of an interview they conducted with Michael Ignatieff? Well, there was this:
Ignatieff, a former Harvard academic, has faced charges of elitism before, in part due to his aristocratic family background, his patrician manner and high-flown rhetorical flourishes.

He raised a few eyebrows at his first news conference as leader last week, when he referred to "the year of our Lord, 2008" and the West as "the beating economic heart of our country's future." But Ignatieff urged his critics to "lighten up."

"I think it's important for a politician to communicate clearly and accessibly to everybody but it's also important to have a little fun with the way you choose words and use words. I mean, otherwise we'll all die of boredom." (emphasis added)
Don't know about you but I found that line hilarious. Then there was the special way of referring to the Harper Conservatives (with emphasis on the good parts):
"The boys who gave us the autumn (fiscal) statement could easily give us a terrible budget and any responsible politician who wants to protect the national interest has to keep the coalition hanging over these people's heads so they clearly understand they can't make that same stupid mistake a second time."
The key I think is that it's an absolutely legitimate point but done in a manner that is skillfully and appropriately disparaging without being too insulting. That's what makes it fun.

Some strategic positioning:
"I think it's important not to put a dollar figure out there because, you know, there's a wide range of respectable economic opinion about that question," he said.

"I don't want to be pinned to, it's got to be this billion or that billion and if it isn't, then . . . That's just not the way to make responsible economic policy."
...
"I said to Mr. Harper that we have a problem of trust and we have a problem of confidence - confidence in the constitutional sense and confidence in the human sense. We do have a problem of trust but it's up to him to fix it. I didn't start this problem. He did."
Forgive me a little cheerleading here, it's been a while. These latter statements have the effect of keeping the onus on Harper, I know, what a concept. With the full spotlight on him, Harper's going to be a lot more, ahem, exposed. The last few years have seen Harper escape much scrutiny by always succeeding in making people look at Liberal disarray. It's not going to be nearly as easy now, is what such interviews confirm.

Plus, it seems like it's going to be kind of fun...:)