I have been reading the Liberal Bloggers very closely over the past couple of weeks and have watched their reaction to the supposed surge in the NDP and the failure of their own party. And I must say for the most part I am deeply disappointed. There are a few Liberals Bloggers who have acted with grace and dignity. They are willing to accept the failure of the Liberal Party in this election, if indeed it occurs (which I am not convinced will happen). The better Liberal Bloggers are even still willing to shift the onus of strategic voting onto their own party.
For the most part however, the Liberal Bloggers have been acting like genuine rogues. Dr. Johnson said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, but we can adapt this to present conditions and say partisanship is the last refuge of a scoundrel. They are angry at the very idea that the NDP would call them on their five year record of supporting Harper's government and they act as though it is untoward for a political opponent to campaign. They have attacked the NDP with as much vehemence as they have attacked Harper and acted as though the NDP has run a corrupt and awful campaign. They have begun to call the NDP names like 'socialist' etc, with the same kind of marginalizing tactics that the Conservatives have traditionally used.
But for the most part the NDP has run a clean, positive, and respectful campaign. Yes, they have pointed out that the LPC has supported the Harper government on many occasions. This is not a negative campaign, just a fact, and one that arguably demonstrates a closeness that many voters are uncomfortable with. The only thing that upset me about the NDP campaign was the attack on Ignatieff for his voting absences in the House. This struck me as too personal and not reasonable given that Ignatieff has been trying to rebuild a party brand, an effort that surely took a great deal of time and effort. But I am not overly partisan. I am willing to say this was a wrong-headed strategy and I wrote to Jack Layton personally criticizing him for this.
The saddest thing about the Liberal attitude is that it belittles a very good campaign on Ignatieff's part. Ignatieff has been treated harshly by fate and doesn't deserve this given the decent campaign he has run. He is eloquent, solid, well-spoken, good on his feet, generally respectful, remarkably energetic etc. Given the campaign he has run, Ignatieff deserves to be much higher in the polls and I have nothing but respect for him. He has said a few things that have been untoward, and a few of his candidates have been a little problematic. But that is true of every party. Unless you are going to act like Harper, then you are bound to have some problems on the ground. (And even with all his micro-management some of Harper's people have screwed up badly and corruption has emerged during the campaign.)
But the NDP has captured people imagination and if that pans out on election day, they will have quite a few more seats than they did. But Liberals should recognize the difficulties faced by the NDP in this process. They have nowhere near the resources of the other two parties, and when the campaign started they figured they had little chance to go over, say, fifty seats. As a result it is not surprising that some of their candidates would not be as politically sharp as those in parties that have had long records of success. But no decent Liberals should suggest that the NDP doesn't deserve any success because of this. The voters will decide that point. Anytime a party finds sudden success, it is bound to hit some potholes along the way. Over time they will deal with that or, if they don't, they will pay for it with voters.
I don't know. Indignation can be good if it is directed at genuine malice or corruption. But anger from Liberals at the NDP is sadly misplaced. If Ignatieff bounces back and has lots of seats and prevents a Conservative majority, I will be glad to cheer him on. If the NDP has a hundred seats I will cheer them on and expect a lot of shaky times as they adjust to that new found success. It is sad that more Liberals can't take the same attitude.