Excitement surrounding Thursday’s White House state dinner has officially reached a fever pitch, for mostly one reason: Justin Trudeau.
The Canadian Prime Minister and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau arrived in Washington, D.C., ahead of the evening, which will be hosted by President Obama and the First Lady, and mark the first time in nearly 20 years that the White House has hosted a Canadian Prime Minister. The couple has already met with the Obamas, and Trudeau and the president shared some playful banter during a press conference.
While discussing the United States’ great relationship with Canada, Obama joked that after every presidential election, “our friends to the north have to brace for an exodus of Americans who swear they’ll move to Canada if the guy from the other party wins. But, typically, it turns out fine.” He later acknowledged, to laughter from the crowd, that “in 2012, when there was the possibility that I might be reelected, there were folks who were threatening to go to Canada, as well.”
Trudeau responded that no matter who is elected president in November, “the friendship between our two countries goes far beyond any two individuals or any ideologies.”
“I have tremendous confidence in the American people, and look forward to working with whomever they choose to send to this White House later this year,” he added.
Obama also recalled some words of wisdom he previously shared with his Canadian counterpart. Referencing his own famous transition from black to gray hair, Obama said, “In my congratulatory call, I indicated to him that if, in fact, you plan to keep your dark hair, then you have to start dyeing it early. You hit a certain point and it’s too late – you’ll be caught. ”
Since ousting longtime PM Stephen Harper of the Conservative party in October, Trudeau has earned a lot of attention for welcoming Syrian refugees, appointing a diverse, liberal Cabinet and, of course, his devastating good looks.
But there’s another reason that Trudeau has earned plenty of attention south of the border – namely, the fact that Trudeau and his family have a great deal in common with America’s most famous First Family, the Kennedys.
Both families are political dynasties.
Trudeau’s father, Pierre, was Prime Minister of Canada himself from 1968 to 1979 and then again from 1980 to 1984, making the younger Trudeau the first ever Canadian PM whose father also held the office. The wave of support from Canadian citizens during Pierre’s first campaign was so overwhelming that the media dubbed it “Trudeaumania,” and he was often compared to JFK during his time in office, thanks in part to his relationship with Barbra Streisand.
Trudeau, like the Kennedys, grew up in the spotlight.
One of the downsides to growing up in a family so heavily involved with national politics is that all eyes are on you, even from a very young age. While that did mean that Trudeau got to rub elbows with Margaret Thatcher and be toasted by Richard Nixion when he was young, it also means that every awkward teenage photo and embarrassing interview is easily Googleable for the rest of eternity. At least the Kennedys didn’t have social media to dig up all of their baby pictures
And they’ve been media fixtures their whole lives.
Trudeau was born while his father was still prime minister, which means that the eyes of the world have been on him literally since the day he was born. Which means that he could relate to pretty much every member of every generation of the Kennedys – John F. Kennedy Jr. was even named Sexiest Man Alive before he even finished law school!
Both families are associated with liberal parties.
In the Trudeaus case, we’re referring to the actual Liberal party, which is now the majority party in the government. Meanwhile, the Kennedys have long been associated with the Democratic Party, stretching back to Joe Kennedy Sr. supporting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s bid for president back in 1932.
They’re all pretty good looking.
We’ve already mentioned JFK Jr.’s tenure as Sexiest Man Alive; his father was considered just as much of a pop culture heartthrob in the 1960s as actual celebrities, and there are already numerous articles dedicated to Trudeau’s good looks (and perfect locks) being published all over the world.
Both first ladies worked in the media.
Before she met and married JFK, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis worked for the Washington Times-Herald as a photographer, and spent the last twenty years of her life working as a book editor. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire, also enjoyed a change in career; after working at an advertising agency after university, she went to radio and television school, where she fell in love with reporting and presenting. Now, Grégoire primarily uses her relationship with the media to promote the many charities and non-profits which she supports.
Both Trudeau and John F. Kennedy were 43 when they were elected.
Okay, now that’s just kind of spooky.
In a possible nod to the Kennedy comparisons, Trudeau quoted JFK during his press conference with Obama Thursday.
“As I’ve reflected on the storied relationship between our two great countries,” Trudeau said, “I constantly return to President Kennedy’s wise words on our friendship that, ‘what unites us is far greater than what divides us.’ “