When Sting released "If I lose my faith in you" in 1993" no one could have imagined this line from the song would be so prescient:
You could say I'd lost my belief in our politicians
They all seemed like game show hosts to me
Yet here we are in 2020 and there is both a game show host in the Whitehouse and in 10 Downing Street.
(In the case of The Whitehouse, Donald Trump was the presenter of the US television reality TV show The Apprentice, that adjudged the business skills of a group of contestants. Boris Johnson was a guest presenter on the British topical news quiz 'Have I Got News For You' on four occasions.)
Today, the 14 June 2020 is the President's 74th birthday and for weeks now the good people of Twitter have been conspiring to flood the service with pictures of Barrack Obama just to piss Trump off. Despite his media popularity prior to becoming president, Trump's average approval rating is languishing at 40% which is the lowest of any president in modern times.
Why then have they become so unpopular? Could it be that they share certain flaws?
Both men have a number of things in common. They both bat for their respective country's mainstream right-wing parties, the Republicans and the Conservatives. They've both achieved media popularity through a lot of self-promotion, cultivating a somewhat roguish images with colourful personal lives. Both know how to showboat for the cameras, whether it be Johnson waving Union Flags while hanging of a zip line, or Trump putting his hair on the line in Wrestlemania 23.
Also somewhat sinisterly, they have both dodged accusations of links to foreign interference in the democratic process, with Trump narrowly avoiding being impeached and Johnson so far refusing to publish the Russia Report by the Intelligence and Security committee which may contain details of outside meddling in the Brexit referendum in 2016.
The more one considers the parallels between Trump and Johnson, the uncannier it becomes. Both have been in charge of their respective countries during the 2020 fight and against Covid-19 and both have failed spectacularly to contain the disease by delaying lock-downs that were in any case insufficiently comprehensive nor were they enforced with much vigour. Both are still failing to implement the most basic tracking and tracing that many countries have had in place for months.
Both have a tetchy relationship with the press, preferring to address the nation directly through social media or prerecorded video. When they are forced to appear in front of the press, they have both banned journalists of national mainstream media outlets who have previously dared to report them in an unfavourable light.
Also, and rather unfortunately in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent avalanche of 'Black Lives Matter' protests, both men have been accused of racism, claims which they of course vehemently deny. Johnson wrote in the Spectator in 2002 that "..the problem with Africa is that we are not in charge any more". Referring to Blair's visit to Africa in the same year, Johnson wrote in the Telegraph "What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies," he wrote, referring to African people as having "watermelon smiles." In defence, Johnson dismissed the words saying they had been "taken out of context." Trump meanwhile has a lengthy Wikipedia entry entirely devoted to cataloguing his racial views making it as easy to find evidence of his racism as shooting fish in a barrel, from calling African countries shitholes to calling Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers.
Almost inevitably then both men are similarly accused of sexism. From Johnson's long career in journalism there is a seemingly endless source of quotes where he demeans and patronises women, from advising his successor at the Spectator to "Pat her bottom and send her on her way" when referring to the journal's publisher Kimberly Quinn, to once claiming that "Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts".
Trump of course was famously caught on tape speaking of "grabbing them by the pussy". His history of sexism and misogyny is longer than Johnson's. 'The Week' has a list of "61 things Donald Trump has said about women" which is staggering! The guy just doesn't have a part of his brain that audits whether what he is saying about women is appropriate or not. One of my particular favourites was the time when he and his daughter Ivanka were interviewed on 'The View' and he cringingly said if she wasn't his daughter he'd probably be dating her. Eew!
So many happy returns Mr Trump but you know what? If Marilyn Monroe was alive today I don't think she would be seductively singing you happy birthday!