Canada’s right-leaning National Post is positively giddy over elitist reaction to the collapse of the Liberal Party in last week’s general election — and in particular the rejection of now-former leader Michael Ignatieff, who parlayed his long career into academia into a spectacularly failed bid to become prime minister:
In a front page article, The Boston Globe said the main reason for the Liberal collapse was that Mr. Ignatieff — the former director Harvard’s Carr Center of Human Rights Policy and an expert on international military interventions — had views on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan that had pushed “war-weary voters toward the more left-leaning New Democratic Party.”
The paper’s editorialists noted with some disbelief that Canadian politics had become “surprisingly caustic” and described the “sadness and indignation” his former Harvard colleagues felt at seeing that Conservative attack ads painting Mr. Ignatieff as a foreign Ivy League elitist had played so well with Canadian voters.
“For a country that is stereotyped here in the U.S. as a country that is accepting of everyone and everything, this federal election depicts a Canada that is moving in a steadily more exclusive and narrow direction,” wrote Shalini K. Rao, a Canadian student, in the Harvard Crimson newspaper.
It was a tough lesson in humility for one of the world’s most prestigious universities that while a former student could be elected president — and the first black one at that — its star professor couldn’t win his seat in a Canadian riding.
“I think they’re unhappy that his time spent in the U.S. at Harvard ended up hurting him not really helping him in the election,” said Paul Cellucci, former U.S. ambassador to Canada and a former governor of Massachusetts. “They’re not happy about that and I don’t blame them. You would think that spending time in Harvard would have a positive impact on your future career path.”
The reaction to Mr. Ignatieff’s defeat has focused largely on trying to explain how his reputation as one of Harvard’s most respected professors, a charismatic intellectual who could pack classrooms and once graced the cover of GQ magazine, could have worked against him with voters.
What kind of world do we live in when voters would rather be represented by a former college bartender than a former college professor?