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STATESIDE: A tale of several Trudeaus and one Donald Trump

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FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

With CHARLIE HARPER

THIS is a tale of several Trudeaus of different generations and Donald Trump.

The most current chapter in this story involved Trump and Garry Trudeau, possibly the most talented, impactful and socially committed cartoonist in American history. Trudeau, now 75, has partially stepped back from his trailblazing cartoon strip Doonesbury. It only runs as new work on Sunday these days. But it packed a punch this past weekend.

In the first frame of Sunday’s strip, a typical American couple is driving to church. From the back seat, their son asks “Daddy, why doesn’t Trump ever go to church?” The father replies: “He doesn’t need to, sweetheart. He was sent by God.” Son: “But why would God send someone so selfish and mean?” Daughter (also in back seat): “And who lies and cheats. Stuff we get punished for.”

Wife (from front seat): “No one’s perfect, kiddos. God sent us a flawed messenger to remind us of our own sins.” Son: “But then what’s the difference between Trump and someone Satan would send?” “Um…” the father hesitates.

In the last frame, his wife steps in with a snarky Biden reference. “Satan’s guy would be three years older, honey. And he’d over-rely on teleprompters.”

Trudeau has excoriated and mocked Trump in the comics for over 40 years, mostly while both men lived in New York City. Trudeau seems to have recognised Trump for his potential significance decades before most politicians of either party figured it out.

Today, Doonesbury is syndicated to 1,000 daily and Sunday newspapers worldwide. In 1975, Trudeau became the first comic strip artist to win a Pulitzer Prize, which is traditionally awarded only to editorial-page cartoonists. He was also a Pulitzer finalist in 1990, 2004, and 2005.

But despite his editorial fame, Trudeau’s most lasting contributions have come from his tireless advocacy on behalf of military veterans injured in America’s seemingly ceaseless parade of wars.

In some sense, Garry Trudeau is a kind of antithesis to Trump’s self-aggrandizing, falsely nationalistic and deceitful persona. And while “Doonesbury” has devoted much of its Sunday newspaper space for the past several years to scathing criticisms of Trump as essentially the emperor with no clothes, the feature this week cut a bit more deeply. It is thus emblematic of growing concern bordering on panic in liberal circles that Trump could somehow, counterintuitively from their perspective, be re-elected this year.

Two other Trudeaus are Canadian political icons. The father, Pierre, was Canadian prime minister from 1968-79 and from 1980-84. It was during his second stint as Canada’s head of government that his only recorded meeting with Donald Trump occurred at a New York banquet. Despite this passing association, however, during that era the politics of these two men were largely congruent. Trump identified as an often- liberal Democrat in those days.

Pierre Trudeau was a trailblazer who was progressive and well ahead of his time. As minister of justice and attorney general sixty years ago prior to election as Canadian PM, Trudeau created more flexible divorce laws, decriminalised homosexuality, and legalised abortion. Trudeau’s outgoing personality and charismatic nature caused a media sensation.

In fact, from the late 1960s until the mid-1980s, Trudeau dominated the Canadian political scene to an unprecedented extent. After his appointment as prime minister, he won the 1968, 1972, and 1974 elections before narrowly losing in 1979.

Trudeau is noted for having suppressed the 1970 Quebec separatist crisis by invoking the War Measures Act, the third and last time in Canadian history that the act was brought into force.

He also formed close ties with what was then the Soviet Union; China, and Cuba, putting him at odds with other capitalist Western nations. Castro reportedly counted Pierre Trudeau as a personal friend.

But it is with Pierre’s eldest son Justin, now and for the past decade Canada’s prime minister, that Trump is much more closely linked. Truly the heir to his father’s immense political legacy, Justin Trudeau is 52 years old, born on Christmas Day. Soon after assuming leadership of the Canadian Liberal Party, Justin moved the third-placed Liberals in 2015 from 36 parliamentary seats to 184 seats, an increase of over 500 percent and the largest-ever numerical gain by any party in the annals of Canadian federal elections. Trudeau took office as the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history.

Trudeau’s government has negotiated trade deals such as the Trump-mandated post NAFTA trade agreement with the US and Mexico (CUSMA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership brokered by Barack Obama. He has signed the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Trump has been critical of Justin Trudeau, as the two men advocate significantly different policies on trade and political alliances, among a host of other issues. But the US-Canadian relationship has been sustained since the arrival of Trump on the international stage ten years ago, and while Justin doubtless prefers a Biden victory in November, it’s unlikely that even a second Trump term would seriously damage a relationship that features the longest undefended border in the world.

The ballot box, not the courts, will decide Presidential election

“SUPER Tuesday,” a collection of presidential primary elections customarily held on the first Tuesday of March, passed this week with barely a whisper. Pundits really had to dig deep to find anything worth commenting about.

For example, a few tried to impute significance to the Democratic “race” in American Samoa, where an unknown challenger to Biden scored some votes. Still, the inevitability of a Trump-Biden rematch is clear now even to the most die-hard advocates of more competitive races.

Something else is also coming into focus at the same time. That is the increasing likelihood that the American court system is not going to determine the outcome of this year’s presidential election.

For the past several years, many Americans have held the belief that somehow, Trump’s spectacular misdeeds would catch up with him in time to expel him from the 2024 election process.

This hope was first dashed when the US Senate failed to impeach Trump even though senators had just witnessed an armed assault by a mob of Trump supporters that threatened the security and even the lives of members of the US Congress and the sitting Vice-President.

Then, in the aftermath of that disaster, Trump faced the much-quoted total of 91 indictable charges in various US federal and state courts. Surely, many hoped, one or more of these indictments would result in his electoral demise.

But Trump isn’t spending tens of millions of dollars on lawyers for nothing. Nor is he intimidated at all by the awesome prospect of facing charges in court. Nor is he daunted by already confronting hundreds of millions of dollars in fines already assessed by judges in cases involving a sexual assault decades ago and the accumulated sins of lying, falsifying documents and general malfeasance in the operation of his real estate company.

Trump loves a fight, especially one fought in the realm of the American court system. He has made a lucrative career out of staying just ahead of the next crashing legal wave for many years. This is just more of the same for him. It’s just magnified exponentially by the fact that he is running for president of the United States.

It was hardly a surprise when the US Supreme Court last week threw out a judgment by the supreme court of Colorado that Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021, merited his disqualification from this year’s election under the now familiar Article 14 of the US constitution. Even the high court’s unanimous decision was hardly shocking.

A loyal Trump appointee in Florida will delay the classified documents case sufficiently that his inevitable appeals should push any final verdict well past November.

In Georgia, the almost unimaginable carelessness in her personal life of an otherwise capable and determined prosecutor will likely sabotage her attempt to hold Trump & Co. accountable for trying to fake a victory in the Peach State in 2020.

Even the redoubtable prosecutor Jack Smith’s federal insurrection case against Trump in the courtroom of a tough judge is going to be stalled until the high court issues a judgment on Trump’s claim of blanket immunity for actions committed while president.

No. This election will be decided where it should be decided: At the ballot box in November. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work in a democracy?

Comments

lobsta 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Well, the US neither does have a proper modern democracy, nor does it have a working judicial system. Truly a country of men and not of laws. Stuck in the past and successful despite of all this, it is no wonder that people think democracy is a popularity contest.

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