Friday, 13 July 2018

If Jean-Claude Juncker stumbles because of sciatica, why doesn't he use sticks?

I've suffered bouts of sciatica over the years, and...

...I've been as pissed as a newt on occasions. Speaking purely from personal experience, the President of the EU Commission's embarrassing performance at Wednesday's NATO summit looked very much like the result of overindulgence. Nevertheless, his aides are forever explaining Juncker's "unsteadiness" on sciatica or a "back problem", and Juncker himself has not only repeatedly denied being a drunk, but has even stated: "One can excuse a politician anything, but not alcoholism."

I'm not sure he's right about that. People still argue about whether Winston Churchill was a full-blown alcoholic or not, but, if he was, I suspect most of the Free World would happily have excused his seeming reliance on champagne and watery whiskies. But what's truly worrying about Juncker's statement is that he considers himself to be a politician: he used to be one, but in his current EU role, isn't he actually a bureaucrat? If he's a politician, how exactly can the electors - who presumably voted him into office, but who now find themselves disappointed by his performance - vote him out? Whether "one" can excuse a politician for being an alcoholic isn't the point - it's whether the voters can forgive him (or her) for being a drunk. On the other hand, I would have thought that being an alcoholic bureaucrat really is unforgivable: the very term suggests sobriety,  dependability, clear-headedness and emotional detachment. I suspect the way the EU blurs the distinction between the two roles is one of the many problems we have with it. 

Back to Juncker and his excuses. If we are to believe them, what are we to make of this excessively exuberant, "You're my best mate you are" display from 2015:

Stabbing pains in the hip/upper leg have never made me feel as good as that, whereas four triple Scotches and two bottles of wine almost invariably did (for a couple of hours, at least). The reactions of the politicians subjected to the bladdered bureaucrat's alarming bonhomie leave one in little doubt that they're dealing with a volatile piss-artist - because that really isn't how you respond to someone suffering from an agonising medical condition. 


  1. Those Belgian beers really are delicious and so many to choose from. But beer is so, you know working class.
    And why so many wonderful restaurants for such a small city?
    It couldn't be a case of snouts in troughs could it?
    Perish the thought!

    1. An hour-long primetime BBC1 or ITV documentary featuring nothing but shots of Eurocrats stuffing their faces in some of those agreeable Michelin-starred watering-holes would probably help push the Brexit vote above 60%, if the referendum were to be rerun.

  2. There is definitely something of the Winston Churchill about Brussels.
    Single malts and champagne are consumed in vast quantities...apparently.

  3. There is a German expression which covers many forms of personal embarrassments - "Es geht in die Hose" ["it goes into the trousers"]. Juncker, if you've been out on "the Turps" a half bottle of Imodium should see you through most situations. You can probably claim it on expenses?

    Do you remember the famous incident when Fidel Castro walked straight over the edge of a stage or "De Edge" dropped off the side of a platform during one of his amusing solos. Or the marathon runner whose legs turned to jelly and had to be helped over the finishing line at the Melbourne Olympics. Take care, Mr Juncker, we need you alive to guarantee our exit.

    1. Hillary Clinton also finds walking in a straight line challenging sometimes - but I've no idea why (she claimed it was pneumonia the last time it happened).

      The nation owes a considerable debt of gratitude to (in particular) Juncker, Verhofstadt and Tusk for keeping the Brexit dream alive. Long may they remain in office! And Mrs Merkel, of course - her help has been truly invaluable.

      You speak the lingo - what's the German term for "piss artist" (presumably not "Piss Künstler")?

  4. I believe a piss artist is now known colloquially, in Germany, as a "juncker".