Sophie vs Baba

February 27, 2013

As a teacher I long ago learned that one of the best measures of a person is his or her immediate family.

As I grew to know their kids I usually had a pretty good idea of what to expect on parents’ nights. Given access to an empty classroom a surprising number of parents will gravitate towards the seat their kid normally occupies.

When one of my students particularly impressed me I automatically projected this respect upon his or her parents as well, as this kid was at least partially their creation.

Much of what we know about a political leader comes from the foils: staff and family members who show how they feel about their leader. Would we have admired Josiah Bartlet for seven years without his West Wing crew and family? Where would Barrack Obama be without the three beautiful women who share his stage? Justin Trudeau may be an enigma to many of his opponents who can’t see the substance in the man, but look at the woman who chose to marry him.

Sophie Gregoire is an impressive and loveable T.V. presence. When Justin trounced Senator Patrick Brazeau last spring, Sophie barged into the ring and none-too-gently embraced her man. I predicted in a column that the photograph showing the kiss marked the first step on a path which would lead the couple to 24 Sussex Drive.

But upon reflection I think the path goes back further to where the newlyweds joined their host for a zip-line adventure on The Mercer Report. The musical sound of her laughter stayed in my head. I remember thinking: “If Justin Trudeau can nab a great wife like Sophie Gregoire, he must be far more than a pretty face.”

In the 2015 election campaign Stephen Harper must expect to face the Justin-Sophie team and he will be hard put to compete with their sex appeal and warmth.

By the same standard I must raise my opinion of Liberal leadership contender Joyce Murray. Cued by a local newspaper article on National Newswatch this morning, I tracked down Baba Brinkman, a rapper who has made a video in a B.C. classroom in support of his mother’s campaign. That video is waaay better than it should be.

As his day job Brinkman raps about Darwin and Chaucer to theatre audiences. Rolling Stone has written about him. Graduate students love him. I watched his talk on TED to a group of teenagers, and he was very, very good. He has turned a Master’s degree in medieval literature into a successful career in hip hop. The Darwin Society organizers hired him as entertainment, but first had his lyrics peer-reviewed for scientific accuracy. In his videos Brinkman’s intelligence and wit shine through a basic decency which I can respect. He likes and admires his mother, so Joyce Murray’s stock goes up.

Of course Murray’s the proponent of co-operation with the Green Party and the NDP to get rid of Harper and bring in proportional representation. A financial article rates her the richest of the Liberal candidates from wealth earned through the family tree planting business. If Joyce planted trees to fund her university education she is one tough, determined lady.

Baba Brinkman’s momma’s-boy rap has elevated dark horse Joyce Murray into second place on my list.

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