'Affix Label Here'

Labelability: adjective. Possessing traits, an appearance or personality that makes a person easy to label without knowing him or her well (or at all).

I saw Kate and Will this past weekend. Yes, I’m on a first-name basis with them. You might be, too. After all, we know them so well. For those of you not in the Royals' inner circle, you might know them better as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

William is the second-in-line heir to the throne of England. His full name is William Arthur Philip Louis Mountbatten-Windsor.  But I just call him William -- or Will, if it’s just the two of us. He and his wife Catherine (Kate to me) were in town (Victoria, B.C.) the other day, and I swung by to say hi. OK, so it was me and about 40,000 other people lined up 30 deep in front of the BC legislature building, but we all knew them on a first-name basis.



Will is a quiet but smart guy, well-mannered and deferential. He’s pleasantly handsome and a good husband and father. He probably inherited many of these traits from his mom, the late Princess Diana. I also knew her quite well.

Kate is undeniably hot -- but in that elegant, prom-princess kind of way. She also seems quite nice and is a doting mom. I think she’s probably smart, too.

I like them both. They’re good people.

Both Kate and William have a quality I’ll call “labelability.” It makes us think we know them without really knowing them at all. John Fitzgerald Kennedy had labelability. Ronald Reagan had labelability, as did Bill Clinton. Canada’s current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has it.  

Richard Nixon did not. Ironically, William’s father; Prince Charles, also lacks labelability. His grandfather -- Prince Phillip --  certainly doesn’t have it. But as I said, his mother, Princess Diana, had it in spades. She was beautiful, generous and vulnerable. We all knew that. We could see it plain as the nose on her beautiful, generous and vulnerable face.

This open door for us to connect emotionally with a total stranger takes on new import thanks to the world we live in. First mass media and then social media have amplified the power of labelability. When we can connect emotionally with someone without having to invest the time to actually get to know him or her in person, we generally jump at the chance. Ground swells of support can form instantly.

The Royals learned a hard lesson about the power of labelability when Princess Diana tragically passed away in 1997. Instantly, all those who “knew” Diana started grieving. In their grief, they were shocked at the lack of emotion that came from Buckingham Palace. The Queen was called “cold,” “heartless” and “aloof.”

What everyone really meant was that the Queen didn’t possess labelability. We don’t know the Queen. We can’t quite pin her down. Sometimes she’s our kindly grandmother, and sometimes she can be a real cold-hearted hard-ass. She’s funny that way.

The power of labelability will come into sharp focus as we move toward Tuesday, Nov. 8. Donald Trump has labelability. Hillary Clinton does not.

This is not passing any type of judgment on their actual qualities or lack of same. That’s the whole point. Love him or hate him, we all think we have Donald Trump nailed. What you see is what you get. But there seem to be depths to Hillary Clinton that remain off-limits to us. We’re always holding back judgment, waiting for her to surprise us.

She’s kind of got that Queen of England thing going on.

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