Grit Race:  It's Iggy...or the Stooges

By:  Rachel Marsden

Asking me to choose a favourite Liberal leadership candidate is like saying, "Would you rather invest your money in Enron, Worldcom or Tyco?"

The test shouldn't be who can rally the most leftists under the Liberal flag, but rather who is most competent to govern a country in wartime.

Only two of the leadership candidates -- Michael Ignatieff and Scott Brison -- pass the baseline sanity test; they voted with the Conservatives to extend Canada's role in fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan beyond next February.

A politician who doesn't yet understand that we're in this war for the long haul -- think Cold War, not World War II -- is the political equivalent of a flat-earth theorist. It's an automatic dealbreaker -- like finding out that a potential boyfriend still lives with his mom.

Even Liberals ought to have learned from the 9/11 Commission Report that cutting and running from Islamic terrorists in places like Beirut and Somalia has only emboldened them.

This week, we've discovered that Muslim extremists in Iraq brutally slaughtered two captured American soldiers and bombed a crowd of elderly and disabled folks. Meanwhile, their Taliban friends in Afghanistan are using children as human shields, according to British troops.

Contrast their approach with ours: We find a senior Taliban leader who, according to Afghan authorities, organized bombings and attacks on Canadian troops. Apparently, when he was caught, he just happened to be heading over to turn himself in through the Afghan government's amnesty program. (Sure he was. Just like everyone pulled over for driving with expired insurance is, coincidentally, on their way to get it renewed.)

Our military medics treated this ailing terrorist to some good old-fashioned Canadian health care and we laid claim to a potential new anti-terrorism "ambassador." Call me cynical, but that seems about as likely as Hustler publisher Larry Flynt becoming an anti-porn crusader.

This is all mighty nice of us. Too bad they still want to blow us up. I don't recall any new video of Osama bin Laden raising a white flag from inside his cave. We need leaders who are at least as good as that guy is on the follow-through.

Despite articulating a "stay-the-course" position on Afghanistan, ideological switch-hitter Brison makes me nervous, having already established a track record of cutting and running when he crossed the floor to join the Liberals.

So the only serious candidate left is Ignatieff, whose Ironman-length academic eye-glazers, derived from years of rigorous chin-pulling, are so "nuanced" that it's hard to tell what he really stands for.

Ignatieff has written that "torture is not served by collapsing the distinction between coercive interrogation and torture. Both may be repugnant, but repugnance does not make them into the same thing," and that "an outright ban on torture and coercive interrogation leaves a conscientious security officer with little choice but to disobey the ban."

Wading through all that to locate an actual point of view is a challenge. But I think the take-home message here may be that a middle-aged guy who has spent virtually his whole life in academia probably appreciates a good frat party, and isn't likely to get too squishy over naked cheerleading pyramids on foreign soil at a time when our soldiers are being fragged.

This, along with his position on the terror war, suggests that Ignatieff's pointy head isn't lodged quite as deep into his own backside as those of his Liberal opponents. Not that that's saying much.