Sometime this morning, Kevin O'Leary had an epiphany. It wasn't on the road to Damascus, but somewhere, probably in the United States—maybe while was in the lineup to buy a latte, maybe while he was paying some guy at the airport to shine his shoes, maybe while he was hunched over on the toilet taking a shit and staring grimly into his bleak empty eyes and contemplating his life—he had a sudden revelation. He was done with the Conservative leadership race. He was out of the race. His brief foray into politics was finished, and he would retire again into his glamorous thrillionaire life of peacefully being that rich asshole on American television.
We will never know the whole truth of why the Spirit moved him at this exact point in time, when he was still holding campaign events and sending out fundraising emails blasts and ramping everything up to the moment when the Conservative Party of Canada elects its next leader, now less than a month away. The machine was still in motion, all systems were still go, and suddenly he hit the eject button to parachute back into the safe waters of the Shark Tank.
He claims, simply, that it was because he would never learn French well enough in time for 2019 to beat Justin Trudeau in a general election, though he was confident he could win the Tory race. (A recent poll had him nearly tied for first.)
It's a good reason to abandon an ambition to become the prime minister of Canada. Losing sucks. But perhaps when he started this wild adventure, so long ago in the ancient days of January 2017, he believed it was possible. That French was another one of the hurdles he could climb, another point of triumph for his indomitable, capitalist will. What is learning a language after a lifetime of climbing the greased pole of North American business media?
But the effort proved too much. Kevin O'Leary could not learn French in two years. He was faced with a task that could not be immediately broken down by the power of money and showmanship and decided it was not worth the effort, that marching out into an all-candidates debate in front of another audience and humiliating himself with his nails-on-a-chalkboard enunciation was not worth it. Kevin O'Leary would never conquer Quebec and wept with the bitter tears of Julius Caesar learning he'd never one-up Alexander the Great. Better to live on your cushioned knees in America than die on your feet in front of 37 million sneering Canucks.
Say what you will but Kevin O'Leary is not a man with a taste for crow. He is getting out while he's ahead. He has given his blessing to Maxime Bernier, the French-Canadian libertarian who was his biggest rival. It is a magnanimous gesture, fitting with his newfound respect for French Canada and also his recognition that endorsing a libertarian makes a lot of sense for a glorified caricature of a business tycoon.
Kevin O'Leary will be happier when he goes back fulltime to America, which he surely will as soon as possible. All the comparisons to Trump were misplaced. He was just the Tory Ignatieff: ill-suited, pretentious, and in over his head. He never came back for you. He barely came back for himself.
Follow Drew Brown on Twitter.