The backstory for this post is longer than the story, but still worth telling. My Harvard undergraduate class (1971, truth be told) maintains an active list-serv that has become increasingly active as more of us retire. A recent hot topic has been whether the Joe Biden “mockery” ad about how world leaders view Donald Trump has been effective.
One of my classmates, Peter Sage, writes a blog about US presidential politics. Peter, whom I’ve known since sophomore year, has retired after a career initially in local politics and then in investment advising. Peter is returning to his first love, but with a passion – posting daily, even on weekends. He is also a political tourist, going to Iowa and New Hampshire to catch every candidate in the early primaries. Peter’s interest, like my own, is about the narratives candidates tell about themselves and about their opponents. He is always asking whether these narratives are convincing to the polarized American electorate. I admire Peter’s energy and I read his thought-provoking posts every day.
When I watched Biden’s ad, the first thing I noticed was that Justin Trudeau was the first world leader used, which led to my asking how Trudeau’s mockery of Trump is playing in Canada. The answer, which I told my American classmates, is not well. Given the stakes to Canada of maintaining a productive relationship with the US, Trudeau’s mockery of Trump is widely seen here as gratuitously poking the bear.
I return to the political archetypes of hero, knave, and fool that I’ve used in previous blog posts and that Peter occasionally refers to. The Conservative’s “just not ready” and “just in over his head” slogans and ads were attempts to paint Trudeau as a fool that ultimately failed in the 2015 election. But coming on the heels of other gaffes, Trudeau’s overheard gossip over cocktails seems to be doing that himself, and very effectively. So here’s a link to a blog post I contributed to Peter’s website.