THEY ARE CHEATS. They are liars. They have betrayed their loved ones. They probably don’t floss. They are a group of publically disgraced evil-doers called “world leaders”.
For some reason, we are going through a period when many of the most powerful people in the world have private lives that have been screwed-up, and I mean that literally. In particular, I refer to guys the UK newspapers memorably call “love rats”.
One of the most suspicious is Silvio Berlusconi, leader of Italy. The first clue that there was something wrong in his marriage was when it was noticed that he and his wife communicated only via the national media. His interest in women has escalated to a point where it is generally accepted that the only qualification to be a minister in Italy is to have a D-cup bra.
Even worse is Fernando Lugo, President of Paraguay, who previously held two jobs at once: Bishop and serial fornicator. The Roman Catholic Church was so sad when he quit being a priest that cardinals danced in the pews and opened the communion wine early.
After the recent Asia tour of ex-US leader Bill Clinton, he stopped off at the Virgin Islands, and I suppose they will now have to change that country’s name.
Perhaps the most spectacular cheater is Max Mosley, president of the Fédération Internationale d'Automobile, who was accused of holding Nazi-style orgies lasting five hours. His wife and colleagues have remained loyal (possibly because he would otherwise have sent them to Auschwitz).
In Asia, things are different. Powerful females avoid having affairs, not wanting to be scorned by their peers. In contrast, powerful men have multiple mistresses, not wanting to be scorned by THEIR peers.
How do Asian male leaders get away with it? Media owners are too friendly with rulers to make trouble. Mistresses are too submissive (“well-paid”) to spill the beans. News editors are too conservative (“fond of staying alive”) to sic reporters on them.
But while I am happy to make a blanket condemnation of all men who get into positions of global power with the sole aim of fractionally increasing their pulling power, there is one male leader of dubious standing for whom I have some grudging respect.
I once met John Major, former UK Prime Minister, on a beach in Hong Kong. Mr Major had a reputation for being not just the world’s dullest leader, but the universe’s most boring conglomeration of molecules, not excepting barren ice-clusters in deep space.
When a magazine printed an allegation that Major had once flirted with his tea lady, the sheer volume of public laughter was so great that it caused massive hearing loss throughout the UK. He stepped down in 1997 and would have completely dropped out of the public eye except for the fact that everyone had already forgotten him by that stage.
Anyway, many years later, it was revealed that he had in fact been carrying on a torrid, passionate and sordid affair for four years with another minister (also married), right under the noses of the press and public.
His own press secretary, Bernard Ingham, didn’t know about it. “You could have knocked me down with a chicken feather," Ingham said, referring to a peculiar British psychological torture technique (their equivalent of waterboarding).
Hey, Silvio, that’s how you do it.