Those who ignore the past are doomed...
...to relive it as Liberals circling the drain.
William Manchester on America's underestimation of Japan, late December 1941:
[The Japanese soldier] may have been the most underrated infantry weapon in history. On parade he resembled a poorly wrapped parcel of brown paper- soiled, crumpled, and threatening to come apart. His leggings were sloppy, his blouse bulged, his trousers were baggy, and his bandy legs ridiculously short...Any barhop could tell you: America had been winning battles since 1775, and had never lost a war.
But the Japanese hadn't lost a war since 1598....[War] Secretary Stimson warned the country in the fourth week of the war: 'We'll defeat the Japanese in the end, but we shouldn't look at the war with them throught rose-colored glasses...The Japanese soldier is short, wiry and tough. He is well disciplined." By then, the fiction that any red-blooded American could lick 10 Orientals had yielded, in Washington, at least, to a shocked realization that the capital had already entered its grimmest period since the Civil War...
Everyone was wrong [about the Japanese]. By New Year's Day the troops of Dai Nippon had not only thrust southward from Saigon; they had also made landings on Guam, Hong Kong, Borneo, Wake, and the Philippines. Tojo was outblitzing Hitler. He was carving out an enormous salient - a tenth of the globe - into the direct route between the [U.S.] West Coast and Tokyo.
Chantal Hebert today on the Grits' hubris in forcing an election that may destroy it:
'The end of the world' was how one shaken lifelong Liberal insider described his party’s slide to third place behind the NDP this week...Throughout its distinguished history, the Liberal Party of Canada has never been further from power than official opposition...Nothing in the culture of the federal Liberals has prepared them for life as a third party. That culture may account for the blind spot that has brought the party to the edge of this abyss.
One of the most remarkable features of the current campaign is that the Liberal team brought this election upon itself...Michael Ignatieff and his strategists chose the timing of this battle as long as six months ago. They did so with the pre-election wind squarely in their party’s face and in the absence of any tangible indication that it was about to turn in its favour...
A reduced Conservative minority government was their worst-case scenario. In most ways, Ignatieff did do better. The Liberal leader has turned out to be at least twice the campaigner that his predecessor was. His campaign has been a model of discipline and relative grace under duress. But the Liberal game plan overlooked the possibility that Jack Layton might also run a better campaign than last time.
It is not that the possibility was not in the air. Pre-election polls pegged Layton higher than Ignatieff in the leadership ratings. In Quebec he had become the most popular federalist leader on the ballot and his party was already on the move.
Liberal strategists did not factor a potentially surging NDP into their calculations because they presumed the Liberals were playing against the Conservatives in the major leagues and the NDP was not. They approached the election with the mindset of a governing party but the physique of a third party.
As dangerous as the past month has turned out to be, the next few days could be more perilous. For the Liberals, things could still get worse. The so-called orange wave of the NDP could turn into a tsunami and sweep into Ontario. Or the sight of the NDP in the official opposition window with attending speculation that Monday’s vote could put Layton within reach of the Prime Minister’s Office could see the right flank of the Liberals collapse to the Conservatives.
On the highway to Montreal’s Trudeau airport — one of the rare landmarks of the past Liberal glory in Quebec — there is a big Ignatieff billboard. 'Quebecers have the power to change things', it proclaims. That part of the Liberal message has obviously resonated.