Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Silver Foot?

Ann Richards, the late governor of Texas, claimed that George Bush the Elder was born with "a silver foot in his mouth." Justin Trudeau runs the risk of being tagged with the same epithet. His reference to China last week was another example of  his tendency to speak before he thinks. Andrew Coyne writes:

It’s just … weird. He was not challenged to “say something positive about China,” to which he might have replied with the standard hope that “prosperity and trade with the West will in time lead to a relaxation of the regime’s grip” or a backward glance at “the success of the market-oriented reforms that have lifted so many Chinese citizens out of poverty” or even, if he wanted to be edgy, a rueful “we might not like it but you have to admit their dictatorship has a certain brutal efficiency that poses a challenge to the democracies,” which would be mostly wrong but not completely crazy.

Trudeau the Elder also said provocative things. But he did so purposely. You get the feeling that this was not a gaffe as defined by Michael Kinsley -- when a politician unwillingly tells the truth. Instead, writes Coyne, Trudeau's gaffes suggest shallowness -- the ramblings of a man who is not a serious thinker.

Will gaffes be Trudeau's undoing? That remains to be seen:

The next election is nearly two years away. There will be many more chances to take the measure of Mr. Trudeau, who will have many more chances to demonstrate his capacity to grow and mature. One gaffe does not disqualify him from office, nor even do four or five. But the more evidence they are given of his flightiness, the less willing Canadians will be to hand him the keys to the car.

Stephen Harper may be driving Canada into a ditch. But, if Trudeau leaves Canadians with the impression that he too will careen to the ditch, they won't change drivers. Particularly when they know that the other driver has a silver foot on the pedal.


Lorne said...

The more I hear him speak, Owen, the more I get the impression Justin is not ready for prime time politics. I can't help but wonder whether he is yet another example of the Liberals' desire for a 'star' candidate that will bring in the votes and allow them to pick up where they left off. A change in style is not synonymous with a change in substance. I have yet to hear anything from the party that would suggest real differences from Harper's policies.

CK said...

Did you read Terry Milewski's latest?


I highly recommend the reading.

Yes, Harper has expressed admiration for China and it's dictatorship not all that long ago, yet that slips under the radar.

Not saying I agree with what Justin Trudeau said, but why does he get spanked and Harper off scot-free with his cheerleaders cheering him on?

Another case of Harpercon double standard?

Furthermore, I think I can safely say that we, as Canadians, who worship at the altar of cheap all admire China and no, not just the culture, the food and the people (although, I'd argue, not so much with the latter). We import everything from Dollar store junk to clothes to automobile parts and yes, food too, in some instances and rather than try to buy Canadian, we all go for the Chinese goods. Those cheap goods are thanks laregely in part to that dictatorship that mandates cheap labour among other things.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect that a large segment of voters share your skepticism, Lorne. And I suspect they know when they're being snowed.

In the end, Justin must be seen as man of substance, if he wants to succeed.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, CK. Yes, Harper admires China, too, and he seems to practice some of their governing techniques -- like muzzling scientists.

And Canadians buy cheap Chinese goods without giving a thought to the people who produce them.

But Trudeau's gaffe could hurt him. You'll see it over and over again during the next election campaign.

CK said...

But why is Justin Trudeau's statement worse than Harper's affinity for China? Why the double standard? Is it simply another case of all is peachy keen if you're a conservative?

Owen Gray said...

Joe Clark has it right, CK. The Harperites lecture and then they leave.

And everything is held to their own double standard.

Kirbycairo said...

I must say that his whole thing was, well . . . just plain weird. It wasn't just that he expressed admiration for Chinese fascism, because let's face it Harper's head is so far up the ass Chinese government officials he might as well be a Chinese Government employee. No, the problem (an the level of optics) was with the way that Trudeau couched his remarks. It was the kind of thing a high-school student might say, as though he really admires fascism at a gut level and then as an after thought he tries to fall back on its opposite - representative consensus as we find in the Northern Territories.

At a content level, it was just plain stupid and demonstrates that Trudeau has the same kinds of political instincts as Harper - favouring fascist capitalism to a mixed economy which has some command controls like, say Norway or Sweden. It just demonstrates how far we have gone done the wrong path in this country and what little chance we have of returning to a social democracy.

Owen Gray said...

Franklin Roosevelt once told a supporter that, if she wanted him to do something, she had to push him, Kirby.

If we want to return to a mixed economy and a social democracy, we'll have to push our politicians to go there.

I'm beginning to think that they don't have the courage to go there on their own.

e.a.f. said...

What Trudeau said was dump. On the other hand he got his name in the paper during a week, when it normally wouldn't have. As they say, I don't care what you say about me, as long as you spell my name right.

People will have forgotten what Trudeau said by the time the election comes around. If they bring it up again, not many will pay attention. Two yrs is a long time away. There is much to happen.

Owen Gray said...

You may be right, e.a.f. That said, it's a sure bet that you'll see the clip of Trudeau making that statement over and over again during the next election campaign.