Blog post

Learning from Ignatieff's #fail

Anne Sullivan 7 February 2012

Recent coverage of Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil? by Derrick O'Keefe includes:

An interview with O'Keefe on Redeye: Vancouver Cooperative Radio

An interview in The New Left Project

Ignatieff was a key figure in rallying liberal support for that disastrous, immoral war. In fact, on the night that the "Shock and Awe" invasion of Iraq began, Ignatieff was out with his Harvard colleague Kanan Makiya, the Iraqi ex-Trotskyite turned war hawk and key source for the neo-conservatives in Washington, D.C. Each in their own way, Ignatieff and Makiya were – to borrow the late Tony Judt’s description of liberal war boosters – "useful idiots" for the Bush administration. 

This alone would have qualified Ignatieff for inclusion in Verso’s Counterblasts, a series of polemical books aimed at key apologists for Empire and Capital. But I also wanted to examine the full arc of his career as a public intellectual; it seemed to contain lessons about the political retreat of the past 30 years and about the real nature of liberalism today.

And a blog post by O'Keefe on

In general, however, there's been too much focus on personality over policy in analyzing Ignatieff's historic failure. We can start with a hat trick of concrete examples where political decisions -- all to varying degrees at odds with previous leader Stephane Dion -- managed to drive the party even lower in the polls.

Nothing about Ignatieff's spectacular failure in electoral politics seems to have humbled him. Witness his op-ed in the Financial Times last week advising new Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on how to win the hearts and minds of the victims of looming austerity measures. The FT headline, making reference to Monti's nickname "the professor," is unintentionally hilarious: "One professor to another: listen to the people, or fail."