On the one hand, there are pundits who say that no leadership candidate has ever had as big a lead as Ignatieff has and not won the leadership. On the other hand, Ignatieff is being seriously criticized from both within and without the party - to the point that he is starting to look like someone who doesn't have the support of rank and file Liberals and can't win a general election. When we wake up on December 3, the last thing we need is a leader who's so bruised and battered that he's crippled from the start and a party that once again is deeply and bitterly divided.
I haven't been happy with Ignatieff's public relations gaffes (Quebec, Israel/Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan). I still think he might make a good prime minister, but he doesn't have any political experience and he's not learning fast enough. Still, if the Ontario Returning Office hadn't lost my Form 6 and left me off the delegate ballot (and if I had won a place) and if Rae dropped out, I would still probably switch to Ignatieff.
I speculated in a previous post that Ignatieff wouldn't have given up tenure at Harvard if he hadn't had some pretty hefty reassurance from some pretty hefty party insiders that he was going to win. I have to wonder what those backers are thinking now. There have been some defections at the front of Ignatieff's campaign team because of some of his extremist statements; have there been any at the back?
I can see two ways to reach a good outcome. Either at some point we pull together and support Ignatieff (and this requires that we soften up some of the criticism during the campaign); or his backers have to start re-evaluating their support. If the former, more people need to start speaking up for the guy. Right now he's hanging out there like a stuck pig on a forklift. If the latter, we need those backers who are backing off to tell us about it so we have a better chance of electing someone else.