Second Thots

Sometimes one has to step back, take pause, and have some "second thots"

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Michael Ignatieff looks 'scary'

At least according to one woman's Liberal friends and, I suspect, many more Canadians.

By "scary", they don't mean the kind of scary label that usually gets applied to conservatives in Canada, which is supposed to refer to their agenda, I guess. No. This kind of scary refers to the way that Michael Ignatieff looks — physically. And it's something I've heard from people for months.

I'm not sure what to think of this phenomenon, but it does appear to be a reality in politics. Former Liberal prime minister John Turner's bulging eyes were a source of distraction for countless Canadians. Canadian Alliance leadership candidate Tom Long had a similar problem.

Yet I wonder how much this kind of problem is truly insurmountable. When you think of accepted leaders, do you really care about their superficial faults? Current prime minister Stephen Harper, for example, doesn't exactly have eyes that make you feel warm and fuzzy, but he's been prime minister for over four years now, and Canadians don't seem to mind. Did Americans ultimately care that Ronald Reagan was really old? No. Would people have cared if he was a lesser leader? Probably. Look at John McCain.

And I suppose that's my point. When leaders start to fail, people start to focus on the superficial. My recollection is that Stockwell Day's wetsuit became a larger source of mockery after he lost.

So, if Iggy has fallen victim to some of the more crueler aspects of modern day politics, he probably only has himself to blame. In the absence of respected leadership, people will latch onto some of the more unpleasant aspects of a person's humanness. It's only inevitable.

I'd have to agree with you. Jean Chretien was the perfect example here: he has a paralysis on one side of his face, but it didn't matter because a plurality of the people trusted him for a long time.

Ignatieff could have a giant scar across his forehead, but if the people trusted him, they'd hardly talk about it.


Of course. You see, I had all but forgotten about his facial deformity, and that's because, like him or not, you respected him as a leader.

It was an issue before he was elected prime minister; whether he had the stature. And it was in part because of his face. Kim Campbell's ad simply reflected ongoing doubts, and Chretien milked it for all it was worth.


I remember that ad! I knew right away it was going to blow up in the Progressive Party's face. It opened the door to Jean Chretien giving the speech he always wanted to give. ("'Dis is da face God gave me...", etc.)

_____________________________'s not the simple fact of a strange face, it's all about the kind of face, and what it evokes. For better or worse, due to factors he cannot control, Ignatieff looks vampiric (according to our cultural template for 'vampire'). Which ought to be a great strength in the current era of vampire love. Problem is: he looks count chocula vampiric, not young buff goth vampiric. He looks like he should have a raven on his shoulder: he looks like he might bite: like he might hunt at night...You're a powerful guy, you've got a blog: use your power, and make us a photoshop collage of Igantieff, Long, Turner, and Chretien: the liberal frankenstein...


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