Thursday, October 4, 2012

Justin needs to use his boxing skills outside of the ring

I've often compared politics to chess, or at times a hockey game.

Now the appropriate metaphor appears to be boxing, given Justin Trudeau's ring defeat of a heavily favoured Conservative Senator, a fomer Canadian Forces member and a karate blackbelt. Young Mr. Trudeau didn't beat three opponents, just one. Tory Senator Patrick Brazeau had those seeming advantages and the calendar on his side to boot, being 38 to JT's 40.

Despite being a three to one underdog, Canada's dauphin stunned everyone by scoring a technical knockout when the referee finally halted the fight in the third round. That was after several previous stoppages to ensure the Senator was fit to continue.

Boxing and politics, both contests where opponents try to land their gloves on one another while at the same time defending against attack. Not always an easy task, take a reckless swing and you can leave yourself ungaurded against a big punch.

Just ask Stephane Dion, he of the ill fated but bold Green Shift.

The former Libeal leader tried to land a haymaker by proposing an overhaul Canada's tax system, advocating the reduction of income taxes while raising them on carbon production. Dion's gaurd down, he was pummelled by Harper and the Conservative machine with a flurry of punches about the Liberals looking to 'tax everything'.

The Conservative won that fight on points, returned to power, but with another minority.

Dion bloodied, the Grits turned to Michael Ignatieff. But before the former Harvard prof could even get between the ropes he was getting hit left and right over his long absence from Canada's shores. The highly intellectual and new savior wasn't able to mount any offence whatsover and was knocked out cold by the Harper machine. The Liberals were relegated to thrid party status and Iggy failed to win even his own seat.

Of course young Mr. Trudeau hasn't yet won his party's leadership, although it looks like a foregone conclusion. Right now he's in training and working out hard. But if things play out the way most are expecting he's just getting ready for the main event when Canadians next go to the polls in 2015.

We're still waiting to see if any big name sparring partners will step forward, Marc Garneau seems the most likely. The Conservatives will be watching carefully, this is an open session after all, the gym doors aren't closed. Stephen Harper and his advisors will be putting JT under a microscope to discern any weaknesses that can be exploited down the line.

And if the Montreal area MP is as cagey as he appears, he won't give them any.

Justin's boxing skills were, at least in part, learned from his late father Pierre. And the elder Trudeau was very skilled at using boxing tactics outside the squared circle. Pierre Trudeau loved the Socratic method, the intellectual version of counter punching. Goading his opponents into defining a position on a given issue, the elder Trudeau would find an inevitable flaw in their argument, rip it wide open, then hold it up for all the world to see.

That's what many Conservative commentators are doing right now with Justin Trudeau, calling for him to outline concrete policy initiatives. In boxing its called jabbing, a sharp quick thrust, not meant to inflict any real damage but rather to illicit a response. The dominant hand is kept close, gaurding against attack, while the non dominant hand is thrust quickly but with no real weight, toward the oppoent.

Pretty boy - but no depth, nice hair - but no substance, famous name - but no resume....JAB JAB JAB.

The undisciplined fighter gets annoyed with the glove of his opponent constantly flicking him in the face, and he responds strongly, going for the big blow and leaving his chin exposed.

If I was in JT's corner this would be my advice:

You're winning on points, the National Post released news of a poll that shows Conservative support tanking with you as Liberal leader. No need to go for the knock out, keep moving, bobbing and weaving. Be ready for that right, and if you see an opening and want to try a left-right combination, be damn sure your opponent's defences are down.

It worked on Brazeau I know, but now the stakes are higher and the opposition tougher.

No comments: