Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kennedy Has A Wide Berth

I just watched a political roundtable on Newsworld, wherein two Liberal strategists agreed that Gerard Kennedy had shrewdly positioned himself on Afghanistan. Earlier, Don Newman interviewed Bob Rae and the conclusion was that Rae seemed "wishy-washy" with regard to his Afghanistan stance. There was some surprise that Rae and Dion had ceded so much terrain to Kennedy, effectively allowing him to stand alone as the only strong critic of the mission, while everyone else remained in the "muddy middle".

Everyone agrees that the country is divided on Afghanistan, with a downward support trend. The natural extension of this sentiment would seem to suggest a majority of Liberals question the mission. When you look at the various stances of the candidates there is some divergence, no question. However, the Kennedy viewpoint seems decidedly unique and articulates a bottomline clarity. As the roundtable suggested, Kennedy enjoys a wide berth on the issue- partially through his own bold stance and simply through relative default. If you are a strong supporter of Afghanistan, then Ignatieff is clearly your choice. If, however, you have doubts or are firmly against, Kennedy's position looks attractive.

Kennedy doesn't go as far as Layton, even though the intellectually lazy lump them together. What Kennedy does do is offer a refuge for the wary, without the appearance of "radical". If's and when's allow for movement, and don't box Kennedy into a black and white proposition. I have to agree with the roundtable conclusion, Kennedy is smartly positioned to appeal to a good percentage of Liberals.

17 comments:

Nathan said...

I also saw it and while I was originally sceptical about GK's position on Afghanistan, when I actually read the Star op-ed (as opposed to Cherniak and other blogger's opposed to Kennedy's take) I think his position is both the right one to take and politically genius.

Given that Iggy has once again reaffirmed that he is with Harper on Afghanistan and Dion and Rae are god knows where on the issue, I think this is a huge coup for Kennedy.

Ontario Lad said...

I'm a Conservative, and if I had to pick between any of the Liberal leadership candidates, I'd go with Ignatieff. But Kennedy is slowly becoming worth another look.

Anonymous said...

You assume, like many, that Afghanistan is a deciding issue for many Liberals. I'm not so certain that's a safe assumption. Most people are more concerned about taxes, schools, crime and the environment than foreign policy adventures. So there's nothing much to be gained or lost by staying in the mushy middle.

Kennedy can stake out some turf on the far left of the party if he wishes, but I suspect the only votes he'll gain will be from anti-war, anti-globalization, anti-American nutbars who may or may not be tourists from the NDP. Meanwhile, the rest of the party will wonder about the company Kennedy's keeping. With friends like Hubert and Boris...

Steve said...

Boy, I'll give $100 to whoever can guess which Liberal candidate anon supports...good job - I'm sure you're going to get 40-45% on the first ballot and take the leadership by noon on Saturday...

eugene plawiuk said...

I watched that too and given as I reported on my blog that Brison suppored Kennedy's position last Sunday on CTV's QP he is situated to come up the middle. Its not just about delegates but getting support from the AnybodyButIggie delegates. Then it becomes a contest between him and Rae for delegates. And Rae blew it during his interview with Don Newman today.

Steve V said...

I didn't assume Afghanistan is the deciding issue, merely that on this particular issue Kennedy is well placed. Characterizing the Kennedy view as "the far left" is comical, because as far as I can tell the tension in Kennedy's position seems right in line with mainstream Canada.

eugene

I missed the Brison debate(it wasn't available online?), but your post made it seem that he supported Kennedy, which was surprising.

Anonymous said...

There is a link to their "debate" here:

http://kennedy4pm.blogspot.com/2006/09/brison-agrees-with-kennedy.html

I think Brison, Kennedy and MHF are the future of the Liberal party that best exemplifies where we should be going as opposed to where we've been.

Steve V said...

anon

Thanks for the link! Two things. Brison and Kennedy appear quite cozy- I believe Brison said "I agree with Gerard" four times. Also, Kennedy had a great line "we can't win hearts and minds in Afghanistan's until we win stomachs". For a "rookie" this guy sure seems like a natural.

Interesting to remember, most American presidents enter the office with no foreign policy experience, yet are expected to lead the world. Kennedy is demonstrating he will do just fine in this regard.

Anonymous said...

Ah, The views on Don Newman's Politics were totally biased, especially the one who wanted to trash Ignatieff so I take what he said with a grain of salt.

Steve V said...

anon

Grains of salt aside, I don't think there is any question that Kennedy has distinguished himself on this issue, which was really the theme.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 11:09,

Patrick Gossage was Trudeau's press secretary. I don't think he was trashing Iggy. He has an interesting viewpoint.

Steve said...

Just like it is complained about lumping Kennedy and Layton, is it not the same with Ignatieff and Harper? What is so unique about Kennedy's stance? Aside from zeroing in on the opium trade Ignatieff also says we need reconstruction and aid and not a one-sided military mission

Anonymous said...

Kennedy has the unique stance because according to Don Neuman on Politics he is the only one that would pull out of Afghanistan before 2009 if the mission was not the right mandate for Canada. He also was the first candidate to talk about the opium problem.

Anonymous said...

Well, Afghanistan isn't the only issue and policy is it?

If so, we'd have an election on that policy alone.

eugene plawiuk said...

Despite his wooden appearance in this campaign, I look forward to seeing Kennedy actually debate Rae and Ignatieff, Kennedy comes across on TV well.

Gavin Neil said...

After watching Layton and MacKay I wrote an article on how I thought Kennedy was leading on the issue. I also think his position accords with Canadians (largely opposed) while being realistic about the manner in which we can use our influence to change the strategy.

And maybe I'm just silly, but I do think it will be a key issue, both in the leadership and in the election.

Steve V said...

"And maybe I'm just silly, but I do think it will be a key issue, both in the leadership and in the election."

The only thing that is silly is to suggest it won't be a pivotal issue.