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For all of Ignatieff's putative repudiation of the coalition option there was still an interesting Janus-faced quality to his comments of yesterday afternoon. On the one hand: "Well, you're looking at the guy who turned down the last coalition because I didn't feel that it was in the national interest. … I don't need to revisit that."

On the other hand when discussing Stephen Harper's scorched-earth attitude toward the other political parties - who Ignatieff characterized as "adversaries not enemies" - he said: "I don't think there's been a socialist in the NDP for thirty years, so let's all relax."

When I say Janus faced I don't mean hypocritical. Janus was the roman god of gates and doorways, beginnings and endings symbolizing change and transition. In that sense Janus might as well be the God of politics. Ig is doing what any responsible politician must do. To quote the national security advisor Jeffrey Pelt in The Hunt For Red October: "Listen, I'm a politician, which means I'm a cheat and a liar and when I'm not kissing babies I'm stealing their lollipops, but it also means that I keep my options open."

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