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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What is it with "conventional wisdom"??

I've had a few discussions with some friends over the past few days about the upcoming federal Liberal leadership race. It's always interesting having these conversations. Funny, really. I have to say, I'm amazed by the extent to which people -- ostensibly smart people, I might add -- seem to fall victim to the "conventional wisdom" trap. You know, the same trap that led us all to believe Martin would win a 200 seat majority (of course, he was the most popular Canadian politician ever....right?). The same trap that led us to trust in that brilliant "mad as hell" strategy following the AG report (It was the damn Chretien Liberals, we swear!!). The same trap that told us it was impossible for the Tories to win a seat in Quebec (no way in hell, we thought...I mean, c'mon the guy could barely speak French).

Now, I'm hearing things like:

1. Bob Rae will be destroyed in Ontario. People still remember the disastrous economic times in the early 1990s. They still hate him for the Rae Days, and would never, ever trust him to run a government again (In my opinion, nonsense....Why would seasoned political veterans such as Eddie Goldenberg, George Smitherman and Greg Sorbara be supporting him if they didn't have faith in his innate political abilities or leadership potential?)
2. Canadians -- especially rural Canadians -- are not ready for a gay PM. As such, Scott Brison will never be elected Prime Minister. (Again, nonsense...Of the twenty or so people being mentioned as potential leadership candidates, only one has ever been elected in a rural riding...I'll let you figure out who).
3. Forget about Bevilacqua, Volpe, Bennett, Godfrey, Dhalla, Findlay, Coderre...At best, they'll be king- (or queen-) makers. They're just in it for the exposure; a future Cabinet-post, maybe. They have no chance. (You guessed it...Nonsense again. Did anyone think Dalton McGuinty would win the Ontario Liberal Leadership in 1996? Look at him now.)

Will our widespread assumptions be proven right in this case? Maybe, maybe not. It really does remain to be seen. My point is simple: Leadership conventions, like politics in general, have a funny way of challenging conventional wisdom. How conventional of them! (Sorry, bad joke). It's late, so I think I'll head off to bed. Let's end this discussion on a musical note. I'm a huge Kenny Rogers fan, and in this time of wild wagers and blind punditery, I'm reminded of the lyrics to his most famous song, "The Gambler:" You never count your money while you're sitting at the table, there'll be time enough for counting when the dealing's done....