THERE WERE ALREADY a lot of reasons I found Justin Trudeau untakeable when he recently added more.
Here’s one: I have to remind myself he’s only six years younger than me, because he comes off as a teenager. That’s all great and good if you are, in fact, a teenager, but not so good if you’re aspiring to be the Prime Minister of Canada. “But how,” you ask, is he “like a teenager?” Well, to start, his speeches are invariably of the innocent, folksy, uplifting variety. He believes, or at least pretends to believe, that the solution to everything is to just get along, be nice, and work together. That’s not a proper adult conception of politics, never mind geopolitics, and it’s unforgivable in anyone of his age.
Another problem I have with the man is the smell of cultishness that attaches to everything he does. His website is “justin,” and if you go there you’ll see he wants to have dinner with you. (In the past this theme has gone to creepy places, such as “ladies-only” fundraisers and “win a date with Justin” contests.) His saccharine efforts to be your best friend, as well as the poster boy of hope and change, are matched in tediousness by his pandering. He manages well the common demagogic trick of at once humbling and aggrandizing himself, forever plying the message that, aw shucks, I could’t do it without you. He’s a one-man Up With People tour, which, again, is great if you are actually doing an Up With People tour. But he’s not doing that, he’s running for political office.
I don’t think Mr. Trudeau is a demagogue. I think he believes in the things he says, and that this credulity and wide-eyed enthusiasm are in fact his trademarks. His father could be a very ruthless and calculating, to say nothing of caustic, man. It’s said that the apple falls near to the tree, but I’ve yet to discern the evidence of that where the Trudeaus Senior and Junior are concerned. Presumably he’ll one day be elected, and we may then see another side of his personality. In the meanwhile, it’s difficult for me to imagine him facing up to a crisis, or an issue of unusual complexity, in a way that could inspire confidence. Most of his energy seems to go into making people like him, in the manner of a college roommate.
The preceding is only a thumbnail of a more detailed antipathy, and, as I’ve suggested, he’s now given fresh reason to further doubt his seriousness as a candidate.
The remarkableness of what he’s done is worth some exposition. The fellow has taken two extraordinarily contentious matters – religion and abortion – and he’s uncanned them. The more sensible person (for example, Stephen Harper) knows a sleeping dog when he sees it. No one was even forcing these issues. Mr. Trudeau went and did that all on his own. He’s unnecessarily agitated and alienated an active, and probably henceforth activist, component of the Liberal Party, when he could easily have left these matters to personal conscience – a course which has served the parties well and which has no discernible down side.
As if that weren’t enough, he’s now made Catholicism and Catholic doctrine a federal political topic! At least three Bishops have seen it necessary to repudiate him and to subject his profession of faith to a dissection. Again, a quite unnecessary provocation, of no evident utility.
How can Trudeau Jr. be taken seriously, having provided so many examples of poor political sense? Only a buffoon of the first order sets up, and then steps into, traps such as these. And yet there will be those who take him seriously, and who will discern in his dreamy eyes the sincerity of a man who cares, and who toils for them only.