How to soften a political image -

How to soften a political image

Use the internet like a normal person, for starters


Twitter is often a playground of mundane oddities. People, despite their best intentions, say boring things that could not possibly excite another soul. They remark on their daily achievements as if anyone else should care. They talk about their work around the house. “Am I the only one who finds successfully installing a dimmer oddly satisfying?” asked one active user.

That tweet, complete with the world’s most boring photo of the work-in-progress dimmer switch, was retweeted 59 times. In its own way, that tweet was a cunning political statement. That’s because the man behind that tweet was Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. He told all 244,000 of his followers that, hey, he can fix things—and have a good time, to boot. That was two days ago.

Yesterday, Trudeau was back on Twitter. He told the world that his wife, Sophie Grégoire, was pregnant with the couple’s third child. The tweet came with a photo of the family packed into a canoe. How many retweets? 421, as of this morning.

Twitter is not, so far, where politicians go to win elections. Trudeau, who can fill a room with a smile and shake hands until the sun goes down, knows that as well as anybody. But his mundane tweet about playing Mr. Fix It, whether it was something calculated or nothing more than a playful observation, gives everyone who sees it the impression that he’s, you know, a normal guy.

No one really thinks the same of Stephen Harper, no matter how often he tries to soften his image. No one really thinks the same of Tom Mulcair, no matter how often he tries to soften his image. Maybe, for Trudeau, a couple of screwdrivers and some electrical tape can make the difference.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Canadian police chiefs’ recommendation that simple marijuana possession should merit only a ticket. The National Post fronts the Quebec government’s plan to ban the wearing of religious symbols in public institutions. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with bail granted to James Forcillo, the police officer charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Sammy Yatim. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the potential demise of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. iPolitics fronts the politics of parliamentary prorogation. leads with wide condemnation of the Quebec government’s religious symbols ban. CTV News leads with the Syrian government’s denial that it used chemical weapons to kill 100 people. National Newswatch showcases a Halifax Chronicle Herald story about rising costs of Canada’s next generation of navy ships.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Search & rescue. A military weather station in Labrador will no longer operate around the clock, and most of its staff will be laid off—which critics say will harm search-and-rescue capabilities. 2. Floods. The Alberta government reports that major floods this year in southern Alberta damaged 14,500 homes, and two months later, 2,700 people remain unable to live in their homes.
3. Homophobia. Pattrick Blackburn, a gay man living in St. John’s, N.L., who was badly beaten, told his tale on a YouTube video. The incident surprised the relatively gay-friendly community. 4. Kayak. A pair of Nova Scotia kayakers successfully paddled 175 kilometres from the mainland to Sable Island, in an attempt to raise enough money to send 25 kids to summer camp.
5. Nuclear leak. The troubled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan leaked 300 tonnes of radioactive water. The leak didn’t pose a significant threaten the sea, which lies about 100 metres away. 6. Thailand. Five years after Calgary’s Leo Del Pinto was killed in southeast Asia, a police officer—Uthai Dechawiwat—was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to 37.5 years in prison.


How to soften a political image

  1. Well Harp is firing a rifle this morning in an effort to appear what…? Tough? Studly? Average middle-class?

    • Is he shirtless and flexing his (dubious) muscles like Putin?

      Seriously though, they were tweeting images of cats and freakin’ chinchillas last winter for Harp during the whole Theresa Spence thing.

      • Ugh please….I haven’t long had breakfast! LOL

        It’s like he’s been given a new toy, but doesn’t know how to use it

        ‘Harp goes to Summer Camp’ is not authentic….too obviously a photo op.

        And there’s just not much to be said about tweeting cats and chinchillas while a woman is on a hunger strike in a bid to get help.

  2. I believe this piece is what they call “meta-inanity.”

    • uhh, what is wrong with simply calling it inane? Just how far do you want to dress up triviality?

      • You bother because, if you stick your heard in a bucket and walk around bumping into walls, even you can learn something about buckets. To wit:

        Trudeau’s tweets are inane — “inanity” — and so is this piece; being inanity about inanity, it may be termed, ironically, “meta-inanity.”

        In case you are curious about the origin of this usage, it’s from Aristotle, whose “meta-physics” are a book that comes after (meta) the Physics and, per the introduction, are about the basis of the Physics. This has given us the ironic prefix “meta-” in the modern world.

        Triviality, by contrast, is a Latin word from “trivia,” a crossroads (< tri- + via, three + road); something trivial is some small useless thing that might be picked up at a crossroads.

        Finally, it is impossible to dress up an abstraction.

        You may now remove the bucket.

        • Actually, Trivia comes from the ‘Trivium’. The lesser part of the medieval university curriculum considered preparatory – Rhetoric, Grammar, and Logic – than the more important Quadrivium – Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy

  3. Er…people who use twitter, analyze twitter, seem to live on twitter and [cough] pay any attention to twitter are surely hardly normal…are we, er you NTV?

    • This post wasn’t meant to ascribe some grand significance to Trudeau’s tweets. Mostly, I was just trying to be funny. But the underlying point, I think, is that Trudeau’s better able to look normal than his competition. It doesn’t matter that he tweeted a photo of his dimmer switch. What matters is he fixed the thing himself.

      • Don’t mind me, i’m just envious because i haven’t figured out how twitter works.[nor do i think i want to]
        I take your point. It’s a good one. So why can’t the PM match him…he’s normal too, so his fans insist.
        I guess it’s a matter of authenticity?

        • The next election will be a battle of do-it-yourself home renos.

          • Debate will be moderated by Mike Holmes. I’d watch that.

          • I’d like to see that.

            I envision a sweaty, teeth gritting Mulcair insisting that hammering in a screw with a 3lb sledge is perfectly normal practice. ‘You just have to make sure you don’t damage the wood too much…see!’
            A serene JT insisting that it is perfectly possible to get a sheet of plywood to stay up by wishing it so…’screws are superfluous.’
            And a slightly puzzled, pop eyed PM industriously trying to turn a screw in counter clockwise with a pair of pliers…’i don’t see the problem. It’s always worked for me before.’

  4. “a couple of screwdrivers and some electrical tape can make the difference.”
    You know, if you said that stading next to a bar, it would have a whole different meaning.

  5. JT grew up watching the delightful Mag Ruffman instead
    of Sesame Street.