Here’s something that people don’t talk about enough: the obvious connection between the dull, anaemic, flapping, loose-sock-foreskin type of politician and looking funny in photos. The crazy charismatic leaders who are haunted by vice are somehow never quite as photogenic, but then how could they be?
I have two examples, which will have to do. What were you expecting, a rounded and well-supported argument? As a coach-driver once memorably announced over the PA system on a London-Manchester National Express I was on, “If you have any complaints, I’ll give you 10p and you can go and phone someone who gives a shit.”
My two examples are very different. The first is British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose pasty, expressionless visage has now taken on its own comic power. Even if it remains immutable from one picture to the next – indeed, actually because it never changes – his face has become a perfect reflection of his crushed soul. You can see the corpse of everything he once believed in just behind his face.
Then we have our own Angela Merkel, whose principles are made of Play-Doh, and not the kind that goes hard when you put it in the fridge, more like the kind that turns into a clear sticky liquid when exposed to a draught, if that kind exists, and who has once again owned the Forbes chart of the world’s most powerful women.
She almost never has a picture taken that isn’t amusing and endearing. Her face seems to change with each passing national mood, or Bild front page, whichever is the easiest to read. But it always seems to carry a unique sense of pathos. Here are some of my favourites:
- Merkel climbing out of a submarine
- Merkel looking at Helmut Kohl in a grumpy way
- Merkel doing some shovelling in Africa
- Merkel holding some African clothes
- Merkel steering a ship