I had no idea that the rather stern and dour new British Prime Minister had a sense of humor. Theresa May shows her antic side with the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, which is his first frontbench post in a Tory cabinet. I toyed with calling him the Insult Comedian, UK, but that nickname belongs to another bad haired public figure. Besides, Boris is actually funny in an Oxbridge undergraduate way whereas Trump is merely insulting.
I realized this morning that the perfect analogy for his undiplomatic diplomatic style is the cranky, xenophobic, fictional British innkeeper, Basil Fawlty. I’m of the opinion that Fawlty Towers is one of the funniest teevee shows of all-time and Basil is one of John Cleese’s finest comic creations. Basil is the quintessential Little England boor/bigot much like Boris. Who among us could forget this bit?
Now that I think of it, Boris’ antics are a cross between that sketch and The Upper Class Twit of the Year. He’s a most undiplomatic diplomat who’s perhaps more suited to head up the Ministry of Silly Walks.
The reactions to Ms. May’s appointment of Boris to a senior and sensitive post have been as hilarious as appointment itself. Since it’s Bastille Day, I’ll give the French Foreign Minister the first crack at Britain’s new Basil Fawlty Diplomacy:
France’s foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, who met Johnson when the two men were both mayors, was asked on French radio if he was surprised by Johnson’s appointment. “I don’t know if it surprised me,” he said. “It’s a sign of the British political crisis that has come out of the referendum vote.”
He said France needed a partner it could negotiate with who was “clear, credible and who could be trusted”. The Europe 1 radio interviewer told Ayrault: “I’ve got the impression you’re scared of being faced with the fanciful Boris Johnson?”
Ayrault replied: “No, I’ve got no worries at all about Boris Johnson. But you know very well what his style and method are. During the campaign, you know he told a lot of lies to the British people and now it is him who has his back against the wall. He is up against it to defend his country and also so that the relationship with Europe is clear.”
I eagerly await Boris’ comments about President Hollande’s coiffeurgate scandal. If you haven’t heard about his bad hair day, here’s the lede of the Guardian’s story about it:
But now the balding pate of the French president is at the centre of an embarrassing scandal dubbed coiffeurgate after the weekly paper Le Canard Enchaîné revealed that his personal hairdresser is on contract for almost €10,000 a month, paid from the public purse.
You cannot make this shit up. I want to die and come back as the French President’s barber. And 10,000 euros to manage a combover? This was a problem that robustly bald former Presidents Giscard and Mitterand never had.
Back to Boris’ Basil Fawlty shtick. Both the Guardian and Slate have compiled some of BoJo’s best/worst xenophobic slurs. Slate has more details so Imma quote them. The first one sounds like a description of Labour’s leadership scrum:
In a 2006 column, also for the Telegraph, Johnson wrote “For 10 years we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing.” After backtracking furiously, he said he would “add Papua New Guinea to my global itinerary of apology.”
The next one involves our current President and shows more of BoJo’s racist side:
In an op-ed published in April, he claimed President Obama removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office upon assuming the presidency in 2009 because “it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire—of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender,” comments several leading British members of Parliament (rightly) condemned as racist.
This quote involves the next President and makes Hillary sound like Nurse Ratched:
During Hillary Clinton’s first run for the White House, in 2007, Johnson referred to her as “a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital,” criticizing her for embodying “purse-lipped political correctness,” and reviving a long-discredited conspiracy theory that claims she and then-President Bill Clinton conspired to murder Vince Foster, a close friend and White House aide who committed suicide in 1993.
Boris has also slammed Donald Trump and pretty much everyone else he’s ever dealt with. Just think, absent his Brexit wingman, Michael Gove’s betrayal, he might be in a leadership contest with the new Prime Minister. Don’t mention the Kenyan mau-maus.
My favorite Boris slur is this “prize-winning” limerick about Turkish President Erdogan:
There was a young fellow from Ankara
Who was a terrific wankerer
Till he sowed his wild oats
With the help of a goat
But he didn’t even stop to thankera.
That’s funny but diplomats don’t usually call the head-of-state of a friendly country a goatfucker; not even the posh pigfucker did such a thing. (Boris belonged to the same boozy club at university as his frenemy Cameron.) The limerick is Basil Fawlty diplomacy at its finest. Don’t mention the goats.
The Independent has thoughtfully come up with a map to illustrate the countries that Boris has insulted in the past:
That graphic isn’t as, uh, graphic as the goatfucker pun but I’m glad to see that Boris hasn’t offended many people in Latin America. Perhaps a tutorial from the Insult Comedian is in order. Don’t mention the wall.
In case you’re wondering why Boris isn’t malaka of the week, it’s because he wore the crown of malakatude back in 2010. And I try my utmost to avoid repeat offenders. Besides, this post title rocks if I do say so myself and I do.
You’re probably wondering what possessed Prime Minister May to appoint this straw-haired buffoon to a senior post in the new government. For one thing, he’s a straw-haired buffoon with a constituency. For another, it’s a way for the UK RINO (Remain in name only) Prime Minister to make Boris eat his veg and clean up the colossal mess he’s made since his chum Cameron opted not to do likewise. Don’t mention the pig. It also sets BoJo up as a patsy to take the fall if Brexit negotiations go as badly as expected. Finally, Guardian pundit Jonathan Freedland nails the real reason for this appointment and the quick governmental transition:
There is a reason why the Conservative party is the most electorally successful political organisation in the western world. They have an iron will to power their rivals lack – and they have just shown it once again.
True but who knew that the neo-Iron Lady Theresa May had a sense of humor? Everyone knows now.
That concludes the inaugural edition of Basil Fawlty Diplomacy with Boris Johnson. I cannot wait for his first tour of European capitols. I only hope that Boris doesn’t mention the war in his first meeting with Chancellor Merkel.
Repeat after me: don’t mention Kenyan mau-maus, the goats, Nurse Ratched, or the war.