Justin Trudeau at left, with some boring old white guy in a tie that’s too wide. Don’t ever underrate the power of pixie dust! Below: The same boring guy with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and with well-known cage fighter Patrick Brazeau. Weirdly, everyone in these pictures appears exactly as illustrated!
Repeat after me: Rookie mistakes. Rookie mistakes. Rookie mistakes…
Do you think if we say it enough times, it’ll be true?
Plus, don’t forget Ladies’ Night, Red China and marijuana… I mean, like, really, is this a meme yet?
The entire Canadian punditocracy now seems to have jumped on the Justin-Trudeau-is-a-totally-flaky-rookie bandwagon, which is starting to roll downhill… D’ya think that’s just a coincidence?
But what else could we make of this?
- “Justin Trudeau still making rookie mistakes” – Chantal Hebert in the Toronto Star, Nov. 13
- “Justin Trudeau does ladies’ night” – Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail, Nov. 12
- “Justin Trudeau’s gaffes reveal the gulf between his intellectual reach and grasp” – Andrew Coyne in the National Post, Nov. 11.
Have we got the picture?
OK, Mr. Trudeau, who is the leader of the Liberal party in Parliament, did just say China was his favourite dictatorship, or something like that. And if you write commentary for a big newspaper, you’re expected to comment on something that’s just happened. But do you think anyone was actually listening except, erm, us pundits?
I’m not saying this actually is a conspiracy, mind you. For one thing, it’s usually a mistake to blame a conspiracy when incompetence is the simpler explanation. I’m just wondering is all.
Coincidentally or not, the Rookie Mistakes meme now seems to be the principal Harper Government talking point for the guy the misnamed Conservative Party has identified as the new-old Main Enemy. And it’s also the flavour of the week in the Mainstream Media.
This isn’t really fair to Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair, who’s been the person actually doing the heavy lifting on the job of helping Canadians understand the creepy stuff that’s been going on in the Prime Minister’s Office. But whoever said life was fair? Not the prime minister, certainly!
This rookie mistakes thing actually started – in a half-hearted sort of way – back about the time in the spring of 2012 when Mr. Trudeau went into a boxing ring with a second-degree karate black belt named Patrick Brazeau and unexpectedly beat the beejeepers out of him. (What happened to that Brazeau guy, anyway? Haven’t I seen his name somewhere lately?)
Then it really got going a year later when the Tories cobbled together an attack ad showing Mr. Trudeau looking pretty darned good in tights, loveable curls and swirling trails of pixie dust. At the time, and I’m not making this up, the media solemnly pontificated that the Tories were questioning Mr. Trudeau’s masculinity!
I don’t know about you, but if that was the plan, I don’t think it worked. I mean, first of all the guy had just beat the stuffing out of the then-Senator Brazeau, who was apparently the best candidate the Cons could come up with for the role of the Great Blue Hope and everybody in Canada knew it. Second, they were comparing Mr. Trudeau to Stephen Harper, the prime minister, who is not exactly, uh, chiseled, if you know what I mean.
Mr. Trudeau got caught on camera when he put on those tights to perform what the media insisted on calling “a mock striptease.” (Je digresse, but isn’t the mock part the whole idea of any striptease?) But it soon turned out he was doing it in the service of a charity. So the Cons ended up looking mean-spirited (which of course they are), as well as being not much good in a real fight, which everyone could still remember. I mean, seriously people, their ringer had just been thumped by the fellow they were picturing with pixie dust. Seriously!
Plus, their own attack ad put the Man In Tights next to Prime Minister Harper, in a stuffed shirt, which made Mr. Harper look like a dweeb (which, also of course, everyone in Canada knows he is). But then, he is the Grand Old Man of a party whose unofficial motto is No Shirt Too Young to Stuff.
What I’m saying here is that that particular exercise didn’t exactly hurt Mr. Trudeau either, so he then proceeded to tell the world he’d recently had a couple of puffs on a joint to a chorus of howls of Another Rookie Mistake!
Except that that one also didn’t seem to bother anybody who’s technically permitted to talk to a public opinion polling company.
Well, for sure it would have come up big time in some putative future Tory attack ad, had the Tories’ favourite Big Guy in Toronto – the prime minister’s No. 1 fishin’ buddy responsible for “cleaning up the left wing mess” in Hogtown – not been caught sucking back crack cocaine, guzzling vodka, ranting incoherently, hanging around with hookers and … whatever.
Well, here’s a little bet: the China dictatorship thing will also roll off Mr. Trudeau like water off the proverbial duck’s back, just as the marijuana thing did, and the pixie dust thing, and all the other Rookie Mistake things, real and imagined.
Like I said, this isn’t fair. Maybe it even ain’t right. Indeed, as a stuffy old guy with the birth certificate to prove it, it certainly gives me no pleasure me to have to tell you Canadians are sick and tired of leadership by stuffy old guys like Mr. Harper. (I’m not as stuffy as the PM, anyway, thank goodness. At least Ezra Levant was able to catch me, quelle horreur, wearing a Cuban flag in my lapel! Plus, 61 sort of is the new 41, if you have the right attitude.)
I’ve felt from the start that underestimating Justin Trudeau would be a big mistake for Tories and New Democrats alike, not to mention the press.
And making a big deal about nothing but “Rookie Mistakes” that don’t really matter very much to a heck of lot of ordinary Canadian voters is just another way of underestimating him.
Thanks to being habitually underestimated, it’s said here that Mr. Trudeau, pixie dust and all, could very well end up being our prime minister.
If he does, a lot of Canadians will be grateful enough to see the back of Stephen Harper that they’ll be willing to forgive a multitude of sins – even if the grumpy old men and women of what’s left of the newspaper industry don’t approve of men in short pants riding bicycles with training wheels, even if they have nice knees.
This post also appears on Rabble.ca.