, 04.30.2019 06:34 AM

Joe and Justin: one’s a winner, one isn’t

Joe and Justin?

There’s a connection. Stay with me, here.

In 2015 and 2016, I proudly volunteered for Hillary Clinton in two states, and at her Brooklyn headquarters. I’m going to be proudly volunteering for Joe Biden in 2019 and (if he’s the nominee) in 2020.

The reasons are threefold, and all of them – coincidentally – are quite relevant to Justin Trudeau’s political predicament in 2019.

One, we know why Joe Biden is running again. With Justin Trudeau, we don’t.

Joe commenced his campaign in a comparatively low-key way: he released a video on YouTube. He said he’s running to beat Donald Trump, because he’s the only candidate who can. Successive polls have shown that Americans know who Joe is, they like who he is, and they like him way more than Trump. He’s competitive with multiple demographics: African-Americans, older Democrats, Independents, the true working class.

Biden has what the advertising guys call a USP – a Unique Selling Proposition. That is, he can say things that his 19 Democratic competitors can’t. Experienced, likeable, scandal-free, Hell Of A Guy.

Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, no longer has a USP. In 2015, he was the self-proclaimed feminist. He isn’t any more. Gropegate – and his expulsion of Jody Wilson-Raybould, Jane Philpott and Celina Caesar-Chavannes, coupled with his nauseating decision to keep a sexual harasser like Kent Hehr in his caucus – have obliterated his “feminist” credentials.

In 2015, he was the Indigenous reconciliation guy. No longer. He demeaned and defamed Wilson-Raybould, the most prominent Indigenous leader in our collective lifetimes. And, as the former Attorney-General pointed out in a widely-reported speech last week, Trudeau’s government “has fallen back into a pattern of trying to manage the problem.” And the problem is colonialism.

And Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau was the guy who promised to bring back ethics to government. He said he’d be open and transparent and not at all like the secretive and autocratic Stephen Harper. But the seamy, sordid LavScam scandal – which saw Trudeau and his minions pressuring Wilson-Raybould dozens of times to give help a corrupt Quebec company avoid a richly-deserved prosecution – has laid waste to the Liberal leader’s claim to the moral high ground.

What, now, is Justin Trudeau’s USP? Unlike Joe Biden, Trudeau has lost the narrative. He is unlikely to acquire a new one in the dwindling number of weeks that remain between now and the election.

Two: Joe Biden has what it takes to win, because he never forgot his roots. He never stopped boasting about his hardscrabble Scranton, Pa. youth. He grew up in a big Irish Catholic family in Scranton – in a crowded apartment – and the Bidens were forced to move to Delaware when Joe was ten, where his father secured a job as a used car salesman. He got into law school only because he got a scholarship. He participated in anti-segregation sit-ins. He struggled for everything he got.

Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, is the guy who likes to talk a lot about the middle class – but has never, ever experienced the middle class. Trudeau has never had to worry about paying the rent, or the next mortgage statement. He has never wondered where he’ll get the money to pay a hydro bill. He has never wanted for anything. His life has been one of mansions, private jets, and hanging out with celebrities.

Against Andrew Scheer – who, like Biden, grew up in a big immigrant Catholic family, and whose family didn’t have any wealth – Trudeau will likely appear privileged and out-of-touch. Scheer worked as a waiter and a salesman. Trudeau, meanwhile, wears a $15,000 IWC Portuguese Regulateur watch and drives a Mercedes-Benz 300SL. (Which, apparently, can sell for as much as $5 million.)

Third and final reason: traditional assumptions about politics are long gone.

You’re not guaranteed a second term anymore. You’re not going to win simply because your candidate is more charismatic and more photogenic. You don’t win if you have the slickest social media.

If the 2016 presidential race taught me anything else, it’s this: everything in politics is different, now. Hillary had the best-organized, best-funded, best-staffed, best-led campaign I have ever been part of. But it didn’t matter: we still lost.

Politics has been upended, everywhere. So, traditional assumptions about campaigns – whether Joe is too old, too politically-incorrect, too centrist – are kind of irrelevant, now. Trump showed that.

Running the 2016 campaign again will get Democrats another 2016 result, and Biden knows it. He will therefore be at the centre of a decidedly un-Hillary-like campaign.

Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, is still fighting the last war. He’s using against Andrew Scheer the same stuff he used against Stephen Harper: that Scheer is mean and a neo-Nazi and has a hidden agenda. While he’s the middle class, feminist, ethical paragon. Blah blah blah.

As the Canadian and American national races edge ever-closer, we all know who Joe Biden is, and what he wants to do.

With Justin Trudeau, we just don’t.


  1. 416Firearmsowner says:

    Great column as always, but seriously, Joe Biden scandal-free?

    Puh-leeze. How about his “tactile politics”?

    One commonality is both have good taste in cars (Biden is a Corvette guy)

  2. Dork in East York says:

    Biden has been wrong on all the big issues throughout his career: civil rights, deregulation, Iraq, gay marriage, Patriot Act, etc. etc. And the stench of his treatment of Anita Hill will never wear off.

    There are so many better DNC candidates.

    • Gord Tulk says:

      Anita Hill was lying. Biden was on the right side of the issue but now is on the wrong side of his party which could not care less about due process and innocent until proven guilty.

  3. Adam says:

    Biden can campaign however he chooses — if he still comes across, as Clinton did, as being an arrogant, out-of-touch status-quo defender, then he will earn the same losing result.

    Trump won over Clinton because Americans were mad at the state of their government and their political institutions. They still are. Anyone positioning themselves as the grand defender of the status quo is bound to lose, in that situation.

    • The Doctor says:

      You mean the three million fewer Americans who voted for Trump over Clinton felt that way.

      • Gord Tulk says:

        Really? You kling to that trope like feces to a dog’s ass.

      • Zing says:

        Yes that’s what he means — the 3 million fewer American voters but distributed such that T won the determinative electoral college vote. The 2020 election will be under those same rules.

        • Gord Tulk says:

          Again it is an utterly irrelevant statistic.

        • The Doctor says:

          Hypersensitive much? I’m merely making the logical observation that if you say “Americans were mad at . . .”, that implies that either all Americans felt that way, or a strong plurality felt that way. But all Americans did not vote for Trump, nor did a majority or plurality of the electorate do so.

          I’m not complaining about the rules of the election. I’m just pointing out that you can’t conclude by the electoral math that all, a plurality or a majority of Americans felt the way that you claim they felt. Under your logic, one could just as easily claim that “Americans were taken with Hillary’s compelling message” in 2016. Which is obviously BS.

  4. Gord says:

    I think I read somewhere that Biden was, at one point, the poorest member of the Senate. (Admittedly a pretty rareified group of mostly multi-millionaires.) His only real asset was a house in Wilmington.

    He became famous for commuting back and forth between his home and DC by Amtrak every day. Why? His first wife was killed in a car crash just months after his first election to the Senate and he wanted to be home with his two sons every night (both of whom were also badly injured in the crash and one of whom – Beau – has since sadly passed away from brain cancer).

    This guy has a compelling story. If only the Democratic primary electorate will let him tell it to the American people. Sadly, I have a feeling he’s not “woke” enough (and too old, too white, and too male) for the rank and file who now see the likes of AOC as the future. They will pull a McGovern and nominate someone ideologically pure but who alienates working and middle-class whites (just like McGovern did), and who will go down to spectacular defeat against Trump.

  5. Gord Tulk says:

    Biden is a two-time loser about to become a third.

    Anita Hill issue isn’t over (He told Arlen Spector she was lying).

    The Berniebots are going to be relentless in their attacks.

    The scandal surrounding him and his sons is just starting to resume its upward trajectory.

    He may still win – the competition is diffuse and weak – but he is damaged goods.

  6. Jack B says:

    I am sure Biden is a good guy to have a coffee with, but not to run the country.

    The world will be set straight when Trudeau is defeated in 2019 and Trump is re-elected in 2020.

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