It's obvious that what we need to do is give our next leader the time to learn the job. Historically, new party leaders falter in the beginning. Most Prime Ministers didn't get there on their first try. Many didn't look too sharp for the first term or two.
In particular, when we know the leader we've chosen is inexperienced (like Ignatieff), we have to not only give him some slack but be supportive. Any of our last four leaders could have led us to victory, given time and support. What failed is us, the party, not them.
Why does this happen? We have the recent memory of being called Canada's natural ruling party, and there is an impatience to regain our former stature. We blame the leader for not doing it - even though we should all know that it is going to take time for a leader to not just learn, but develop the right team, develop policies, build support in the electorate, make allies, and on and on. I suspect we also have a party loaded up with formerly powerful politicians who are now invested in finding controversial topics to please editors.
We may have to face a situation where our choices for leader are all at the bottom of the barrel. Gerard Kennedy's name is being bandied about - he with a three year college degree, little French, a trumped-up CV and unable to even keep his seat: the definition of an empty pretty boy. He may be what we get. Whoever we get, it is our responsibility to make the most of him: not to whine and complain and demand a replacement.
Why don't we guarantee our next leader that he or she gets the time needed to succeed? Why not say from the outset that they have a two-election term - and we don't expect that they will significantly increase seats in the first of those elections? What about making a pledge (with specifics) to support and help our next leader?
Why would ANYONE agree to take the position without something along those lines? Why would Justin Trudeau want to follow his four predecessors into the pit of humiliating failure?
I have been supporting Bob Rae for leader since he first threw his hat in the ring six years ago. Most of the party divided their support between the four front-runners (in order of support at the convention): Ignatieff, Rae, Dion, Kennedy. Supporters of the first three men have watched the party choose and then pick to death their candidate. It hasn't been a happy experience for any of us. It definitely hasn't helped the party. And it shouldn't happen again.