Veteran Tory strategist Hugh Segal fears his party is underestimating the political damage Bob Rae could inflict if he becomes the next Liberal leader. Hugh makes a couple of interesting points:
1) Young voters and new citizens won't remember Rae's tenure as premier, so Tories won't be able to use his record against him as effectively as they think. Interesting, and contra the "secret" memo leaked by Doug Finley. Whether Hugh is right or not is the million $ question. It will be a storm of negative press from the Post and Sun chain, versus Bob's amiable television presence.
2) Rae is the most "accomplished political operator". He knows how to bring down governments, and is the most likely of the eight Lib candidates to force an early election. Apparently (news to me), Bob Rae was the man who, as NDP MP, moved the motion that toppled Joe Clark.
3) On the other hand, Segal would love to face Iggy:
"I think it's likely to take some time . . . until he understands the kind of measurement necessary and the kind of restraint which a leader of a party has to show,'' said Segal. "And I'd like that learning experience to take place on national TV during a campaign.''
FWIW, Segal insists that he is not playing a game of "reverse psychology", trying to get the Libs to elect the contender Tories secretly believe would be easiest to defeat:
"Spare me ... I've seen Bob Rae campaign. I've seen him in Ontario. I've seen what he can do and I'd rather be up against Ignatieff. It's just that simple.''
Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau reiterates the now common complaint against Iggy: that while he may be a great thinker, he lacks the wisdom to be party leader. Justin also has a few choice words for Bob Rae, claiming that the ex-NDP Premier of Ontario "lacks a grand vision" for the party. Instead, he suggests that Libs should look past the two front runners to Stephane Dion or Gerard Kennedy.
Finally, a quick word on Bob Rae's "visionlessness". He has taken a lot of flak for claiming that "ideas are not so important" in a leader. However, I interpret this as meaning not that he doesn't have ideas, but that he is not as attached to his own particular ideas as he is to the ideas of the Liberal Party. So, choose him and you get a generic mainstream Liberal. Indeed, if you look at his actual statements on let's say the Environment, its all fairly generic Liberal stuff that could have come from most of the other campaigns. Nor is this a bad thing, if you are inclined in that general direction yourself. Besides, what leader's personal agenda survives past the first three months in office?