Er, aren’t we forgetting someone?
In the wake of Nicolas Sarkozy and Barry Ohbuggerit being caught at the G20 slagging off the Prime Minister of Israel behind his back (“I can’t stand him, he’s a liar.” “How do you think I feel? I have to deal with him every day.” – really, lads, that’s quality diplomacy there) The Age this morning has a little collection of other instances of politicians’ mouths digging big holes over an open mic.
There may be no true windows into the souls of politicians, but perhaps the inadvertently open microphone is an aural equivalent – the briefest of glimpses of what lies beneath the polished veneer of stock phrases and party lines.
[Nicolas Sarkozy’s and Barack Obama’s exchange] is up there with the best of past open-mic gaffes. It is reminiscent of former British prime minister John Major referring to his Eurosceptic cabinet colleagues in 1993 as “bastards” in a post-interview chat with an TV news reporter. There is also George Bush Jr’s open-mic aside to Dick Cheney, referring to a prominent New York Times reporter in 2000 as a “major league asshole”.
Those cases somehow said less about the intended targets than the speakers. Major and Bush had gone out of their way to cultivate an image of politeness and fair play, and for a moment the curtain was swept aside. Similarly, Bush’s open-mic conversation with Tony Blair at the G8 summit in Russia (“Yo Blair. How are you doing?”) said as much about his casual lack of respect for foreign leaders as it did about Blair’s obsequiousness around the American leader.
I don’t know, I just get the feeling there’s a really good one missing there. Now, who could it have been? Oh yeah, I remember.
P.S. As an aside the article also joins in with bagging Netanyahu.
On balance, Sarko’s aside does more damage to Netanyahu. After all, he came to power as the most pro-Israel French president in decades and is clearly losing patience. To call someone a liar is no profanity (although MPs are not permitted to apply it to each other in parliament), but is all the more cutting because of it, especially with another world leader nodding in agreement. It reinforces Netanyahu’s image at home as an opportunist who is losing Israel friends abroad.
That may be true, I really wouldn’t know. But I’m not at all sure it doesn’t damage both Obama and especially Sarkozy, whose mouth seems to be very busy lately, at least as much or more than it does Netanyahu.