As if anyone is actually surprised, once again Justin Trudeau only opened his mouth to change feet. Hard on the heels of a reasonably successful policy convention that was long on policy ideas but somewhat short on how to pay for some – well – any of them actually; Canada’s Peter Pan threw out yet another notably absurd comment. It’s become one of those consistencies in life that you grow to depend upon.
And Justin Trudeau never disappoints.
He once referred to the use of the word barbarous in relationship to female gender mutilation as being harsh. I suspect that if someone took a sharp knife to his naughty parts without anesthetic he might have a better understanding of the words barbarous and harsh.
But I digress.
On the weekend he made a bit light with the situation in the Ukraine saying:
“For me, President Yanukovich has become illegitimate and it’s very disconcerting, particularly since Russia lost in hockey during the Olympics — Russia will be in a bad mood, we are concerned about Russia implicating itself in the Ukraine,”
It didn’t take very long for plain folks like you and I along with his political opponents to jump all over the comment and justifiably so. At worse, it was remarkably insensitive and stupid. At best it was naïve and inappropriate levity related to a situation that has seen people killed in a fight for democratic reform.
Having said that. . .
The level of sanctimony about the comment is over the top, considering the constant comments made by many of Justin Trudeau’s colleagues in the other parties.
Consider, for example, the apology by Conservative MP Brad Butt issued almost simultaneously with Justin Trudeau’s. He apologized for lying to the House of Commons – or as politicians put it ‘for having misspoke’ – about having personally witnessed voter fraud by persons using discarded voter cards during elections. Mr. Butt ‘misspoke’ not once but twice on the matter but in fact; he never did witness it and wanted to set the record straight.
That’s was nice of him and I gather it was the same sense of integrity that drove Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to want to correct having ‘misspoken’ about his drinking, his marijuana use and smoking crack cocaine after lying to the people of Toronto about it for the better part of a year. I’m quite happy to accept that he simply wanted to set the record straight and the fact that the police found the video that proved he had used cocaine was merely coincidental.
Former New York City mayoralty candidate Anthony Weiner misspoke when he denied that he was still sexting young women after having been caught a couple of years earlier. Apparently, when it comes to sex, Mr. Weiner is all thumbs. His apology for misspeaking didn’t save his career which only goes to show that he would have been better to have applied for Canadian citizenship and run for mayor of Toronto. They’re much more tolerant of bad character in the Big Smoke than they seem to be in The Big Apple.
Barrack Obama apologized for having ‘misspoke’ about the fact that Americans could keep their previous existing health coverage under his new Affordable Health Care plan which has pretty much established that the word affordable is a bit of a misspeak all on its own.
Former Conservative Cabinet Minister Bev Oda apologized for misleading Parliament about having altered a document after the fact and lying – excuse me – misspeaking about it in the Commons.
Most recently, all three of the major political parties got together and decided that the middle class was losing ground in Canada and started competing with each other to see who could do the most to save them. It appears that they all misspoke as data for the last ten years shows the middle class has actually gained ground with the median net worth having grown by more than 40%.
The list is quite long actually because the simple fact is that politicians for the most part are human and sometimes trip over their own feet; which confirms that you shouldn’t carry your feet in your mouth.
Sometimes, they misspeak because they’re stupid, sometimes because they don’t know the answer but don’t want to admit it and sometimes they just flat out lie because they don’t want to face the truth or they find the truth is somewhat inconvenient.
To be honest, I’m good with that.
Over the years, I’ve come to expect our politicians and political leaders to misspeak and lie to us and I sort of depend on that now. It throws me off my game when one of them actually tells the truth because then I don’t know what to believe. At least when they’re misspeaking to us you pretty much know that the opposite to what they’re saying is the truth.
On those rare occasions when politicians tell the truth, it really throws a wrench into the intellectual works and you don’t know if it really is the truth or not.
What I’m less comfortable with, however, is how many of ‘us’ – the great unwashed – seem to be so intent on forgiving the misspeakings of our guys while calling in the social media Spanish Inquisition to burn at the stake, the guys who misspeak on the other side of the ideological divide.
How stupid is that? Isn’t misspeaking – well – misspeaking?
We can’t differentiate between what is and what isn’t significant anymore because our moral outrage is based almost entirely on shallow, knee-jerk emotional responses and political ideology rather than values.
What’s the difference between Justin Trudeau apologizing for making an absurdly inappropriate comment about the Ukraine and Brad Butt apologizing for lying to Parliament? In terms of apologies, not much really but I would suggest that lying to Parliament is a more serious offense than making a stupid comment on a radio show.
Justin Trudeau and Rob Ford both admitted to smoking marijuana and the good mayor added admissions of binge drinking, DUI and smoking crack to his accomplishments but as far as the right is concerned; he got a raw deal from the media and it’s Justin Trudeau who is the greater threat to the safety of your children.
Politicians from all parties have been misspeaking for pretty much as long as we’ve had language and there’s a reason for it – we allow it. By choosing sides and defending the misspeakers on our side while condemning the misspeakers on theirs, we pretty much condone misspeaking and anything we condone or tolerate which helps politicians get away with stuff is just fine with them.
I keep hoping that one day I’ll haul my ass out of bed to discover that we have discovered that we are Canadians rather than just conservatives or liberals or hockey fans and we’ll start defending our values as a society regardless of who assaults them – even if it’s the guy we voted for originally.
It’s not likely to happen, of course. Beyond hockey, there’s not much that unites us these days but boy have we learned how to be polarized and divided.
We’re not Canadians anymore; we’re tribes and it is only the tribe(s) to which we belong that has the righteous leader who will take us to the promised land.
The only real problem with that, of course, is that the righteous leaders of all parties tend to treat their promises as just one more bit of misspeaking and, as a result, we never quite make it to the promised land.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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