Donald Trump has outdone himself in recent days when it comes to sowing chaos around the country, aptly summarized on Monday night when protesters were violently cleared from a D.C. park so he could march to a church and manhandle a Bible. What can anyone possibly make of that? Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t even sure where to start.
It’s not common to see professional politicians, particularly those that hold their country’s highest office, at a loss for words. But a reporter asked Trudeau to comment on Trump’s decision to call for military action against protesters—or, if he didn’t want to comment, what message that would send.
Trudeau paused for a long time, biting his lip. Cameras clicked and birds chirped, but Trudeau said nothing. At one point, it looked like he might speak, but then changed his mind. “Umm...” he whispered. I know this look. It’s the look of someone is asked for a DTR talk before they’ve had coffee. It’s the look of mental gears slowly grinding against so many thoughts that to whittle them down to a concise answer could take hours, if not days.
He paused some more. He blinked slowly.
Finally, after 21 seconds, Trudeau settled on a response.
“We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States. It is a time to pull people together, but it is a time to listen,” he said. Then he redirected to talking about Canada, noting that the country also suffers from systemic discrimination. “We need to see that, not just as a government, and take action. We need to see that as Canadians. We need to be allies in the fight against discrimination,” he said.
It would have been far better if Trudeau had said what he was actually thinking: That Trump’s behavior is deranged, deadly and despotic. Even so, his silence spoke volumes.