The record-setting rejection of now lame-duck, soon to be ex-Liberal leader Stéphane Dion by his own party begs the question, just who were the strategic voting strategists making their invisible deals with anyway?
Even if you were a fan of Dion's electorally toxic Green Shift program, his party wasn't, and it has tossed him overboard faster than any Liberal leader before him.
Wilfred Laurier and Lester Pearson were given second chances to right the ship after election day crap-outs. The Liberals have always given their leaders at least two shots at grabbing victory, and they have successful precedents like Laurier and Pearson to convince them of the wisdom of this.
But the party was so uncommitted to the Dion green plan, the same one used to lure progressive Canadians into voting for this historically insufficiently progressive party, that Dion is now dust.
While the corpse of Dion's political career was still warm, the same gang of leadership hopefuls that botched things so badly in Montreal a few years ago were busting out the burgundy to toast federal flop John Turner at a Liberal party roast Monday night.
We can look forward to round two of the Grit's grand political pillow fight as former college roommates Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff gear up for another smack-down.
If the Liberal party were in fact worth making deals with, worth sublimating New Democratic and Green party hopes into, the party would be gathering around Dion and re-committing to selling Canada on his green vision. Instead it's going straight into the trash can, heading for political landfill rather than being re-cycled and re-purposed in an electorally palatable way to Canadians.
That's how Liberals do it. And as an almost weepy Dion tells us, he wants his party to be more financially flush the next time it faces off against the nasty Tories. Yet the Grits are getting ready to burn precious pennies waging their second money-chewing leadership race in three years.
If cash is so key in getting out the Liberals' "progressive" message, why waste even more of this precious resource restaging the leadership race?
Because this is a party more dripping in ambition than vision, the green policies Dion professed are simply chalked up to a strategic misstep, a come-on that's now come and gone.
It's ironic that Dion was put forward as a bridge-building politician who could head a political effort built on consensus. Despite his easygoing persona, loud-mouthed anonymous Liberals only too happy to rat out the rejected leader paint Dion as a main man who refused to listen to his colleagues. They depict him as a lone wolf who refused to listen to even his most senior advisers yet was being foisted on progressives as a team-builder, when in fact he couldn't foster a team on the team he was leading.
Are we really to believe he would listen to other parties and interest groups when he wouldn't listen to the Liberals?
At the same time, in the other corner in the strategic strategists' triumvirate of ecological triumph, the Greens are starting to implode as Elizabeth May's muddled message and complete electoral shutout have left some of her burgeoning party members furious with her confused talk on strategic voting.
One-time Green leadership hopeful David Chernushenko has abandoned the party, furious that May's Anyone But Harper talk demoralized and confused party members. "Either you consider yourself a political party or you're not," says Chernushenko convincingly.
And this problem would continue to sabotage the strategic voting strategy. How do you drum up candidates, get them to take time off work and slog through a gruelling election campaign when your party's leader is likely to tell your supporters to vote for someone else?
It's an approach that might make sense to people who are convinced they are building a political movement, but pretty unpalatable to people who are actually building political parties.
Last time I looked, for better or for worse, we were operating with political parties, the only entities capable have having national impact on this widespread country.
So if progressives want a united front, create, work for and build a party that the fractured left can unite behind. Seems unlikely it will be the policy-hopping-and-dropping Liberals or the barely-there Greens, who can hardly call themselves a party.
The only two parties that grew significantly during this last, unwanted election were the Conservatives and the NDP. That's where I see the next clearly defined battleground.