28 November 2006

Justin Time

    Gee, the punditocracy is getting increasingly antsy about the Trudeau fans and the notion of a true Dauphin, isn't it?  (If nothing else, Wherry's reference is irresistible.)  It seems that with every week there comes a new piece snarking, or implicitly snarking about, Justin Trudeau and the supposed cult of succession forming around him.  I hadn't realized that Canada was governed by the laws of primogeniture, but apparently it is, if the columnary calumny is to be believed.  Or perhaps it's merely the preternatural fear, sorely gathered, of what the Trudeau name can do, even when the Trudeau in question is ostensibly ex-officio.  Or maybe it's just the result of the Martini hangover, the myth of patrilinearity having bitten people once, and the hair of that dog seeming less a cure than invitation to make the same mistake twice.

    But just about everywhere--- in the dailies, on the telly, in the blogitorium--- it seems the truly urgent matter of the coming Liberal Leadership Convention is to dampen the would-be Dauphin before he can catch fire.  Only the candidates for the leadership and their acolytes seem to care about the contest itself.  You'd think the commentariat had received some sort of Delphic message that scared them bloodless or provided them faith, predictably proclaiming that some young and upstart beast must be slouching towards Bethlehem.  And yet the lad, as far as I can tell, has never been on the wrong side of an issue, curried a hypocrisy, or presented himself as anything other than a relatively decent chap who just happened to have a famous father.  Were he not Trudeau's son, and were he doing exactly what he's doing now, he'd be receiving endless praise from the chattering classes.  His charisma wouldn't be regarded with suspicion, his looks wouldn't be ridiculed as a symptom of superficiality, and his arguments wouldn't be dismissed out-of-hand as the prognostications of a privileged heir-apparent.  He'd be the Barack Obama from Montreal, just an up-and-comer rather than the Second Coming.

    His father's critics--- and they remain a bitter and unforgiving many--- seem to have more invested in perpetuating the Trudeau mystique than Justin does.  (He haunts them still indeed.)  It's the primary basisfor their often-sniggering attacks against him.  Engaging the man or the issues would serve only to expose their own inadequacies, not least of which is a churlishness that's really childishness masked as cynical celebritism.  Worse, this is faux-cynicism rather than warranted-cynicism, snarkiness guised as experiential criticism.
    For the record, I should be the first to want to rip young Justin to shreds; he's younger than I am, better-looking, infinitely more charismatic, and a onetime English teacher to-boot.  (And he's nobler by half, but let's not acknowledge that, SVP.)  I should resent the hell out of him on those cheap grounds.  But I don't, and that's no statement on my part.  I don't resent him, much, the bastard, and I can't.  That would be resenting him--- and wanting to resent him--- for my own inadequacies against his standard.  But maybe that's where most of criticism he's now receiving is really coming from.

    Give the lad the credit he deserves, and then measure him accordingly, for good or for ill.  Time will tell soon enough if he's the true Dauphin, as it did with Paul Martin, if there's anything to it all.  Let's not buy in prematurely to the myths of the Trudeau fans--- or the Trudeau-phobes.  Let's instead allow him to prove or to disprove himself, in the fullness of time. 

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