Of course I want to provide the caveat that most Liberals were not involved in dirty tricks and smears and there is no evidence that any of the candidates endorsed this behavior. But what we should be aiming at is: When you support a candidate, encourage other Liberals to vote for your candidate by arguing that he or she is the best for the job. Argue the weaknesses of other candidates but only in a polite and reasoned way. Respect the choice and perspective of people who support other candidates.
The following flyer was distributed electronically during the election. (Thanks to Stephen Taylor for this photo.)
For more about the anti-semitic attacks on Rae and his wife, see here. Note that the claims some people make in this article about Rae being anti-Palestinian are totally untrue. The article quotes Tarek Fatah as saying that Gerard Kennedy "has "taken us back to the '30s and '40s" when Catholics and Protestants voted in blocs." Fatah provides the background to the incident here.
After the convention, Stephane Dion condemned the attacks on Rae's wife (although he misspelled her name), but the incident should have resulted in an internal investigation or some sort of stronger statement to ensure it won't happen again.
During the convention, anti-Rae books and buttons were distributed all over the convention floor. (Update: It turned out that these were distributed by Conservative MPs who had observer status.)
Here's a post by blogger Vijay Sippani: "Rae bring NDP dirt to the Convention - Rae organisers are bringing in the dirt from nasty NDP type politics to the Liberal convention. They are encouraging Iggy delegates to chant “I was a Michael Ignatieff supporter, and I decline to cast my ballot.” This is the problem we have with cross over dirty old experienced politicians who bring their baggage with them. Worse he has betrayed Ontario and his friend of three decades, what makes you think he will not betray the Grits and Canada? Think about it."
Here's a post by blogger Devon Francis: "Today at the convention Leadership candidates arrived to register. The day began with Bob Rae registering, with his supporters chanting "Bob Rae, Bob Rae." His crowd was a fairly good size. They were clad in the red t-shirts and carried the posters that depicted Rae in a rather not so flattering way. The overall style, and not content, has been remarked as akin to the Nazi party material. Half red and halfblack and white, one cannot help feel the empire-ish sentiment it conveys. Further, the Rae campaign has been passing posters and cards advocating a Rae-volution. I must ask, is this a wise political move? A former NDP (socialist) leader, advocating revolution,... Does anyone else find this troubling?"
During the campaign, the percentage of blogs in Liblogs that smeared other candidates was enormous. And the nastiness of the comments to posts were even worse. Then there was the aftermath... the Nyah-nyah-nuh-nyah-nyah'ing done by supporters of Dion and especially Kennedy that went on and on.
It all just made me sick to my stomach. This isn't politics. At its best it's a frat house brawl; at its worst (the anti-semitic attacks on Rae's wife) it was bordering on hate crimes.
Libnews summed it up during the campaign in a post called The Death of Discourse. Some of the comments on that post sum up how I feel better than I could. Jason Bo Green wrote: "I think I’m probably getting out of blogging — everything is campaign spin, really... it’s all petty bickering, and instead of debate you get posturing." Fadi Amine wrote: "Three weeks into my blogging experience, I was taken aback by some of the personal attacks on candidates that I was reading and took a couple of days off from blogging to think whether I wanted to be part of such a phenomenon. I even considered quitting altogether. I found that the slightest form of criticism of any of the candidates brought upon an avalanche of anonymous and no profile bloggers who make it their business to defile you and your opinion as much as possible, and the candidate you happen to support. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be part of that." Hear, hear.