Periodically some Conservative Party stenographer masquerading as a journalist promotes MacKay as the perfect choice for some greater task; running NATO for example, or of course, eventually replacing Stephen Harper.
When caught in a tight spot, he has a tendency to change ground without apology, or even a blush. As a result, he suffers what might be charitably called a trust deficit -- and it pre-dates this week's unpleasantness over Afghan detainees.
Dissembling, distorting and spin are, lamentably, part of politics and have been forever. But MacKay's distortions are particularly blatant. He has a tendency to passionately advocate for some position, then, when contradicted by fact or logic, to lash out at opponents like a shrill boy backed into a corner.
There are politicians who can get away with being utterly shameless liars and blithe breakers of solemn promises. MacKay isn't one of them. He owes the security of his position purely to the shaky coalition of camps within the Conservative tent.
When Harper finally leaves, the auto-cannibalizing civil war within the ranks of Canada's right wing will begin and MacKay will be the first course.