Sneering Sarko caught on camera
The story of Nicolas Sarkozy on the rampage at the EU summit yesterday was pretty extraordinary (and very well told by John Lichfield here), but I thought one of the most instantly compelling features was the series of photos of Sarko talking things over with Romanian president Traian Basescu. Two things come to mind immediately upon looking at it. Is it possible to wear a more Gallicly withering expression? And can there really be a world leader who is short enough for le petit Nicolas to look down his nose at?
Of course, this picture might have just been taken at an inopportune moment. Possibly if you had observed the meeting live you would have thought the interaction the essence of internationalist warmth. The camera can lie, and frequently does, with world leaders; once the established narrative about your political fortunes has become negative, for example, you had better not wipe your brow or look downwards or even blink in front of a camera, lest that moment be captured and used as a symbol of your general mental disintegration. (Let us pause, for a moment, and respectfully consider the photographic decline of Gordon Brown.)
If they contradict the prevailing narrative, those images don’t linger; but if they chime in with a sense of a situation the public already has, they will tend to stick. We used that picture of Sarkozy and Basescu yesterday because it seemed to emblematise the nature of French-Romanian relations at the moment, and more generally the French president’s apparent contempt for those who consider his policy on the expulsion of the Roma anything apart from absolutely necessary.
I had a lot of fun a couple of years ago during the run-up to the US elections writing a piece about a particularly hilarious image of John McCain, pondering the way politicians can be defined by images that might be nothing more than an unfortunate millisecond. If you’d like to read it, or if you’d just like to see the Republican candidate apparently groping after his rival’s Hawaiian ass, by all means click here.Tagged in: EU Summit, europe, France, Nicolas Sarkozy, photography, Roma, Romania
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