That’s what you actually get some Trudeau trolls nattering about online: Andrew Scheer’s dimples.
For some reason beyond the understanding of sane people, the Trudeaupian types think that the Conservative leader’s dimples disqualify him as a candidate for Prime Minister. They go on about it all the time.
The same criticism used to be made about Bill Clinton. The Democratic president’s many Republican antagonists would say that Clinton’s ever-present grin was unsettling. They would say that Clinton seems to be smiling when, you know, he shouldn’t be.
In recent months, the upward tilt of Andrew Scheer’s lips haven’t been as evident. We don’t know if he’s received advice to look less happy, or if he is simply distressed by the state of Confederation. Either way, Andrew Scheer is not smirking nearly as much as he used to.
This tendency of some people to attack politicians for something over which they have no control – to wit, their physical appearance – is nothing really new.
Haters on the left attacked Doug Ford for his weight, just as they did with his deceased brother, Toronto Mayor Rob. Kathleen Wynne was mocked for resembling the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live.
And, as Wynne would certainly know, female politicians are regularly attacked – viciously, ceaselessly, unfairly – for their appearance: their hairstyle, their style of dress, their relative attractiveness. All the time.
Such attacks can change the course of political history. The infamous 1993 Conservative Party ad that pointed out the facial paralysis of my former boss, Jean Chretien, is the most infamous example. On the night those ads hit the airwaves in the midst of the 1993 federal election campaign, this writer was running Chretien’s war room at his Ottawa headquarters.
We did not know those attack ads were coming, and we were shocked when they did. Unidentified voices could be heard asking if the Liberal leader “looked like a Prime Minister.“
My boss had been waiting his whole life for that attack. He responded a few hours later, at a campaign stop in New Brunswick. He pointed out that “this was the face” that God gave him, and – unlike Tories, he said – “I don’t speak out of both sides of my mouth.“
Boom. Tories reduced to two seats.
In political back rooms, however, a great deal of time is still devoted to discussing and debating the physiology of political candidates. Example: prior to this writer arriving in British Columbia in 1996 to assist the BC Liberal campaign, some nameless genius strategist decided to stick BC liberal leader Gordon Campbell in a plaid shirt, so he would look a little more proletarian, and a little less house street.
The gambit backfired dramatically. Campbell was ridiculed for trying to be something that he was not.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presents a political anomaly. Trudeau, like Gordon Campbell, is a handsome fellow. Even Rolling Stone gushed in a cover story that Trudeau and his family are “photogenic” and “glamorous.”
In Canada, the politicians who tend to succeed are unlike Trudeau. They are the ones who possess the hockey-rink-and-Timmmies Everyman look. Ralph Klein, Rene Levesque, Mel Lastman, Jean Chretien and Rob Ford were frequently attacked by the elites for being dishevelled or, at least, somewhat less than a Hollywood matinee idol.
But voters, clearly, loved them for it. Because, in the main, not too many voters resemble Hollywood matinee idols either.
If they’ve gotten this far, serious students of policy will be offended by all this talk about physical appearance.
They’re right. We shouldn’t make important decisions based on looks.
But, not long after he lost the aforementioned 1996 BC election, Gordon Campbell ruefully remarked to this writer: “It’s 70 per cent how you look, 20 per cent how you say it, and only 10 per cent what you say.”
Campbell knows whereof he speaks. And, if you don’t believe me, go looking for Andrew Scheer’s dimples.