So Justin Trudeau thinks he can dance.
It’s been four days since the politician’s team posted a choppy .gif of the Liberal leadership favourite and his wife, Sophie Grégoire, busting a move before the Liberal showcase event in Toronto on Saturday.
And now, with just a few days until the Liberal leadership race reaches its conclusion, the silly dance remains among the few newsy bits that have momentum.
While Trudeau will not become the leader of the Liberal Party on account of a boogie, it represents the right kind of warm, fuzzy publicity that could push him past the finish.
The story began Sunday when Trudeau tweeted a picture of his pre-speech warm-up dance with his wife. Shortly after, someone turned a series of six photos of the dance into an animated sequence and posted it on Trudeau’s website with the caption, “Here’s the whole groove. Practice your own moves while you get out and vote.”
The six images shown on rotation suggest that Trudeau is adhering more closely to John Travolta’s moves than those from Psy of Gangnam Style (it’s just a shame that .gifs did not exist back in 1977 when Trudeau the Elder spun a pirouette behind the Queen’s back).
On Monday, Huffington Post Canada decided that the dance clip was a big deal and reached out to a professor who specializes in digital politics.
Dr. Tamara Small from the University of Guelph pointed to U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2007 online campaign as the “gold-standard” in generating feel-good support, and said she suspect’s Justin Trudeau’s campaign managers knew exactly what they were doing when they released the .gif.
But it hardly matters whether the dance was a candid moment or not. Certainly, as many (including the Globe’s Jeffrey Simpson) have noted, Trudeau understands that politics is very much about the art of performance.
His critics, of course, might offer the photo-op as further evidence that Trudeau is strong on style and light on substance. But at this point in the race, the dance music is drowning them out.
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- John Ibbitson: Trudeau’s showcase performance low on substance, high on hope