Think of what happened: Dion and Kennedy roamed the hall, arms raised, garnering cheers. Imagine if Bob and Michael had done the same. Talk about dividing the party and starting a bitter war for 15 more years. Furthermore, most of Rae's high-visibility supporters (leadership candidates and MPs) moved to Dion. Rae probably knew who those people would move to, and had a pretty good idea from the polls how the rest of his delegates would vote. Had he supported Ignatieff, Dion probably still would have won, and party unity would be in tatters. Had he supported Dion, he would just be unnecessarily hurting Ignatieff - Dion didn't need his support. Bob's decision to release his delegates and not support anyone was the best move for the party.
In any event, the more pertinent question might be why Ignatieff didn't save Rae when he had the chance (after the second ballot). When news of the weeks-old secret deal between Kennedy and Dion broke, the Rae and Ignatieff camps looked pretty freaked out for a bit. Then Ignatieff's top guys went to Rae's top guys, and Rae walked over and had a chat and photo op with Ignatieff. At that point Ignatiefff was widely regarded to be toast (as he seems to have known that morning, based on the long faces of his advisors), while Rae had momentum. Who knows why Ignatieff didn't back Rae. Partly it may have been that it's not easy to give up when you're in the lead. Partly he may have been snookered by Kennedy, who didn't announce he was dropping out until after it was too late for anyone to react - we only knew it was happening when the third ballot candidates were announced and he wasn't on the ballot. The fact that Ignatieff asked Rae to walk over seems to indicate that he was thinking about it.
I'm sorry that Bob Rae didn't win, but Dion's an excellent choice and I'm happy with the outcome. I have no idea what's going to happen but I'm looking forward to watching it unfold.
As for the convention... it's a real pity that the organizers marred the event and left a bad taste in everyone's mouths by delaying the announcement of results by an hour so that, apparently, they could be broadcast live on the 6 o'clock news. It was disgusting that they forced Ignatieff to sit under the glare of cameras after he knew the results. Even more than that, it meant that instead of ending on a high note, many viewers turned off their TVs in disgust and walked away from it. I certainly did... not because my candidate didn't win, but because it was widely broadcast that the official results were in (there was even a report of Chretien getting a text message at around 5:15, showing it to his wife, and Aline mouthing "Dion") and that the organizers were delaying announcing the results. Shameful.
So, now that it's over, do I feel that Bob Rae was cheated out of the leadership? Yeah, a little bit. Despite what some people are saying, Dion did not win the hearts and minds of the delegates. He came into the convention in fourth place and he won because of a secret deal he made with the guy who was in third place. Eventually other candidates supported Dion, but only when it was clear that he was going to win. Going into the convention, Ignatieff was the leader and Rae was the predicted winner. Dion won fair and square, but he was not most people's first choice, or perhaps even their second choice. He definitely has some reaching out to do to the majority of Liberals who didn't support him.