Famed American blogger, Glenn Reynolds (aka Instapundit), has often propounded the Theory of Presidential Opposites, a theory that he credits to his daughter (the Insta-daughter). It holds that:
The Insta-daughter proposed the theory to explain Barack Obama’s rise. Obama is the cool, eloquent, ivory tower intellectual who succeeded the tongue-tied, ‘smoke ‘em out’ gunslinger with the Texas twang, George W Bush.
The main idea is that people get fed up with their leader’s personality type. Their quirks and idiosyncrasies start to grate on everybody’s nerves after a while. Because of this, the voters become susceptible to the charms of somebody possessing an opposite personality-type.
For instance, sunny, optimistic Ronald Reagan replaced “there’s a malaise in America” Jimmy Carter, who wore a sweater in the White House because he kept the thermostat low to fight the ‘energy crisis’; the hip baby boomer with a sax, Bill Clinton, replaced the grumpy Greatest Generation father-figure George H W Bush; etc.
I think there is something to this theory, and I think it partially explains Canada’s choice in the recent Federal Election. After being in power for nine years, every Canadian knew Stephen Harper’s personality flaws. He is a control freak, and he is ice cold – as Mark Steyn pointed out in a column entitled Cold Fish in an Indian Summer (where he quoted yours’ truly extensively). Mr. Personality he ain’t. Whatever Justin Trudeau is, nobody can accuse him of being an unfeeling technocrat. He is warm and fuzzy all over – and with great hair.
If this theory is true, then it would be a mistake for the Conservatives to select a conservative version of Justin Trudeau to lead them – somebody who would give Conservatism a great big happy face, while also injecting some sex appeal. Instead, they should pick his polar opposite, somebody who could highlight Trudeau’s faults, which are already manifest: he is a shallow, glib dilettante, who doesn’t think through his actions and who doesn’t have an executive bone in his body.
The next Conservative leader ideally should be serious alpha leader - but also be the people-person that Harper clearly isn’t.