This is not pop-culture related, but this is as good an outlet as any for my frustrations – and, as you probably know by now, 140 characters aren’t nearly enough to vent my outrage on twitter.
Back when Donald Trump’s nomination was first announced, I – along with most people on the planet – took it as a joke. Then time went on and his popularity rose, and I watched, incredulous, as he became a serious contender for the Presidency.
Around the same time, the British government announced a referendum where, incredibly, the majority of the Brits voted against remaining in the European Union. I have to admit, a tiny, selfish part of me felt relieved; not because I thought the poll results were positive – quite the contrary, I still consider it a stupendously bonehead decision – but because finally, another country’s people proved to be dumber as a whole than the Greeks.
Then, last week, the American people voted Trump in, topping the UK in ridiculousness. Granted, the silver lining is that, in terms of sheer numbers, those who didn’t vote for the orange cartoon are the majority in the US. Still, it’s little consolation when the president-elect of the United States is a guy whose sole achievement in life is growing his fortune, littering the NYC skyline with ugly monstrosities and, more to the point, someone who spent the last couple of years spewing hate towards women and minorities. As much as I feel for every American citizen who’s forced to endure this farce for the next four years, again, part of me was glad that, even for a little while, my country is not the one boasting the worst head of state in the western world.
You see, ever since the economic crisis hit my country hard, back in ’09, Greece has been in the dumps. Previous governments tried – and failed – to implement changes that would turn the climate around. This wasn’t entirely due to their own incompetence to govern, but to their refusal to cooperate in order to finally lift the country out of its funk. What happened in Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus should have served as a good example; instead, the inevitable austerity measures enforced by the the memorandum co-signed by the ‘Troika’ (the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF) gave rise to a number of political forces that had been negligible, if not outright dormant, until 2010. We watched in shock as the Neo-nazi party of Golden Dawn gained power and were ultimately voted into parliament; we cringed as their anti-EU voices were joined by extreme leftist movements who wanted to abolish the euro, as though that was the cause of all our misfortunes.
The country was plagued with daily strikes, demonstrations, anarchist groups that were given free reign to wreak havoc even during the most peaceful of protests; the central Constitution square was turned into a campsite for every filthy ‘indignant’ asshole to litter and hang out for weeks. The country’s main gainful industry, tourism, was pretty much destroyed in one fell swoop. More importantly, after violently opposing every single piece of legislation proposed to implement, at last, much needed reform in every aspect of government, the crisis gave rise to the leftist party of SYRIZA and its dubiously charismatic young leader, Alexis Tsipras. A growing number of people fell for this shameless display of populism, believed that there was ‘another way’ to move forward, to re-negotiate the terms of our agreement with the Troika, and, two years ago, voted for this guy to run the country to the ground.
Don’t get me wrong, the majority of the austerity measures were too harsh to accept; some of them were downright unjust. Still, none of them were nearly as misguided as the common misconception that Tsipras would be the right man for the job. Greece was on the verge of completing its memorandum obligations when Tsipras basically blackmailed his way into early elections in January ’15; even after he effectively canceled out his entire campaign rhetoric and did several 180s towards the right direction, his gross incompetence put the country into a downward trajectory that was steeper than ever before, and within 22 months he managed to cause more destruction than the entire 6+ years of crisis and austerity put together.
In the last two years, all of us who were forced to endure this joke of a government have marveled at the idiocy of our fellow citizens who still support him. He’s been the butt of every joke internationally as well – the most recent being this snarky headline, which sadly speaks the truth.
We’ve had to contend with our immense shame at being represented by this man in international fora: an uneducated moron who barely got his degree, never bothered to learn english, never worked a day in his life, and thinks not wearing a tie makes him ‘anti-conformist’; whose first choice for Minister of Education was a high school graduate who believes excellence is a dirty word. Whose Minister of Immigration had the gall to assert that the wave of refugees brought to Athens from the islands without the proper housing infrastructure in place to support their numbers were ‘sunning themselves‘ and having a grand ol’ time. Whose top guy in charge of Troika negotiations was this unhinged narcissist. Whose Minister of Health appears in press conferences chain-smoking and calling people names. Whose interpreter (undoubtedly picked from the pool of unskilled, halfwit friends and supporters he keeps around) was this ridiculous moron who made the joint press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu sound like it had a laugh track added in post-production:
The list goes on and on.
A little over a year ago, he was the guest at the Clinton Global Initiative. His sole job was to try and convince investors that Greece would be a sound option. Instead, allowing his arrogance to lead him to eschew the logical choice of using an interpreter, he spent the entire half hour of his meeting with Bill Clinton struggling to understand the former President.
For everyone else who watched this cringe-worthy attempt at communication, this must have been ROFL-level hilarious; for any Greek with above-average IQ, it was one of the most shame-inducing pieces of television programming ever.
Until a couple of days ago, that is.
Barack Obama visited Greece as part of his last foreign tour as President. It was the first presidential visit to Greece in 17 years. It was a big deal, and not just because he’s arguably the most beloved President in recent years, especially in view of the one about to succeed him. Not even just because, as he said, it had always been his dream to visit Greece.
Sadly, for his first ever visit to my country, he was to be welcomed by the most incompetent Prime Minister we’ve ever had; the same idiot who, a few short years before becoming PM, was leading anti-american rallies.
I have seldom felt so ashamed as when I watched this clown of a prime minister address President Obama as ‘Barack’, patting him on the back like he was some old buddy from college; when, during their televised meeting, he couldn’t even act like a normal head of state long enough to suppress his yawn (!) or stop looking at his watch.
I’m honestly at a loss for words to describe the lack of manners and respect for Mr. Obama. I’m struggling to find the words to express just how ashamed I (and many of my fellow Greeks) felt at the sight of this rude buffoon, who has done his best to sink the country further than anyone could imagine, not being able to even muster a smidgen of tact, dignity and politeness when meeting the POTUS.
And it doesn’t stop here: to add insult to injury, as though making himself (and the entire nation along with him) a laughing stock wasn’t enough, Tsipras’ deplorable demeanor was topped, once again, by his utter lack of even the faintest grasp of the english language – which, ironically, was followed by Barack Obama’s riveting speech, which was not only a lesson in history and an ode to democracy, but was also peppered with a number of greek words delivered more expertly than any english sentence Tsipras has been able to speak in his entire life.
Again, this would be funny if it wasn’t so ridiculously indicative of just how utterly clueless this guy is: when President Obama stood to propose a toast, Tsipras remained seated, probably wondering why the hell everyone was on their feet, far longer than would be warranted by the language barrier. He couldn’t contain his befuddlement, obviously failing to realize that no, a toast is not just something you might be served at breakfast.
The worst part? His halfwit supporters were quick as ever to defend this uneducated ass and his gross display of rudeness by claiming he’s “a simple man” who didn’t grow up rich. (I know. What. The. Fuck.)
So chin up, Americans. You may be stuck with Trump and his idiot followers for the next four years, but at least you don’t have to deal with this rude, mentally challenged joke: