Liberal Hopes In A Nutshell

David Warren
has an analysis of Ignatieff's 'depth':

....I do not doubt that Mr. Ignatieff is in earnest, in his pursuit of the office of prime minister. But he was a fluffy “public intellectual”—as opposed to a hard thinker—and if he can achieve success as a politician, his books will look much heavier in retrospect.

Many years ago, as editor of something called the Idler magazine, I commissioned a review of Ignatieff’s career-enhancing book, The Needs of Strangers (1984). Our noteworthy Canadian was making a mark among the “young fogeys” in London, and from its title the book promised to be interesting. We had every reason to cheer him on. But, on closer examination, there was no “there” there. The book was pretending to a depth and insight it could not deliver. It gathered what strength it had only from its topic.

I have had the same impression wherever I have dipped into his later non-fiction books—journalism with some mildly academic conceits, pretending to be deep. Into the novels I never bothered to dip: I find his “sensitive man” style rather false and grating. I was not surprised when he took to television. I was a little surprised when he did not flourish in that medium.

Mild left, and aloof from “ideology”—or rather, from any burning desire to carry observation towards conclusion, or build a consistent “worldview”—I am describing the least harmful sort of modern “liberal.“ Little feints towards conviction, to tease the reader along. Mr. Ignatieff’s one daring public policy stance was to support the invasion of Iraq. He crossed this Rubicon in a boat slightly behind such harder leftists as Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie....

So if you are a political liberal, rather than an ideological liberal, you'll be happy with Ignatieff. He'll have a chance in Canadian politics... apparantly by virtue of his non-commitment to strongly held ideals and beliefs - even liberal ones.

Oh Canada!

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