In the end, Michael Ignatieff was far more genuine and eloquent in defeat--and what a crushing, decisive defeat it was!--than he ever was on the hustings. "Democracy teaches hard lessons," he said in his concession speech, "and we have to learn them all."
Indeed. And the lesson here for Liberals, now reduced, humiliatingly, to third party status, is that you can't fabricate charisma. You can't make a silk Trudeau out of a sow's ear of an ivory tower academic, no matter how hard you try, and no matter how much you think that your party's rule represents the natural order of things.
And let's remember: the Liberals brought this upon themselves, first by cynically parachuting in their Iggy ex machina, next by cynically proclaiming him leader sans a leadership convention, and, finally, by cynically pulling the plug on Harper's minority government and plunging Canadians into an election despite the Liberals being at least 10 points behind the Tories in the polls. (Liberal operatives thought they could make up the difference during the campaign: Don't they have egg all over their faces today?)
The fact is that Michael Ignatieff never connected with Canadians. He was too stiff, too patrician, and his phony man-of-the-people routine always seems like he stooping--slumming--in an effort to conquer. Thus, I see this as a failure of personality and, unlike many pundits, who are busy giving the Liberal Part the last rites, seeing this election as a sign that the "middle" is being squeezed out as Canada polarizes on left and right, I have little doubt that, in another era and with another leader (and once Wanker Layton's NDP tanks in the opposition slot, at it inevitably will), the Liberals will rise again. (That's what happened to the Tories, who were written off following their ignominious defeat back in 1993, when they were reduced to two--count 'em, two--seats in the House.)
One more thing. Harper won big in Ontario, which was not only an endorsement for his steady-as-she-goes style of management, but which sent a coded message to Ontario Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty and his wacky, wasteful, paternalistic governance. And the message is: your days are numbered, pal.