Crazy leaders: ours and theirs

Eccentric politicians are not confined to the U.S. — just take a quick look around the world.

by Ian J Byrne

Donald Trump is a frontrunner for the Republican Party nomination for president. In a CNN/Opinion Research poll released last week, Trump is tied at 19 percent with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in a hypothetical 11-candidate field. If this isnâÄôt the epitome of schadenfreude, then I donâÄôt know what is.

The prospective GOP field is a bit of a mixed bag. First, thereâÄôs former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whoâÄôs considered by many to be a closet Democrat because of his “old” pro-choice stance and his part in the Massachusetts health care reform that now insures more than 98 percent of the stateâÄôs residents.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum believes that abortion is at fault for Social SecurityâÄôs problems because “a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion,” and therefore the U.S. does not “have enough workers to support the retirees.”

Then thereâÄôs former Alaska Gov. and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Trump, all on their own planets.

While I wonâÄôt be voting Republican anytime soon, I at least want to be able to do my best John Wayne impression on Nov. 9, 2012, if things donâÄôt go my way and say, “Well I didnâÄôt vote for them, but theyâÄôre my president and I hope they do a good job.”

For now, I think the GOP field is quite weak and has its fair share of eccentricities. I bet IâÄôm in the company of a fair number of GOP voters in holding that belief. Well, cheer up everyone. Things arenâÄôt as bad as they could be. The GOP has a well-qualified field when compared to the following international politicians.

First, letâÄôs look at Matayoshi Mitsuo, a Japanese politician from the World Economic Community Party. He has run for municipal offices and parliament seats since 1998 but has never won. Perhaps the fact that his campaign platform relies on the idea that Matayoshi is the second coming of Jesus Christ has led to his defeat so often.

According to Matayoshi âÄî or Jesus Matayoshi on the ballot âÄî upon being elected to JapanâÄôs parliament, he will be appointed prime minister. Following this, the U.N. will offer him the position of general secretary. His economic plan calls for self-sustainability with state economies reliant on the agricultural sector. His last election defeat was in 2009, where he garnered 718 votes out of more than 300,000 cast.

Then thereâÄôs Leonid Chernovetskyi, the mayor of UkraineâÄôs capitol, Kiev, who planned to run for president of Ukraine in 2010. Former Ukrainian interior minister and big-time rival Yury Lutsenko accused Chernovetskyi of having a drug problem. In order to disprove those claims, Chernovetskyi invited a group of journalists to watch him exercise.

The mayorâÄôs style is “hands on,” to say the least. The director of the Kiev Zoo was tasked with finding a female elephant for a resident male elephant. When the director could not procure a female elephant, Chernovetskyi fired him.

His cat, Yasha, has also made headlines throughout the country. In 2010, the mayor stated that he was “never happier” than when he fed his cat pork cutlets. This incensed many due to the fact that KievâÄôs poor cannot afford to buy âÄî let alone eat âÄî pork.

Unfortunately, Chernovetskyi did not follow through with his presidential run. In November 2010, UkraineâÄôs president effectively ousted him from his seat. He remains mayor, however, as the position has been turned into a “ceremonial position.”

Following his demotion, Chernovetskyi completely disappeared from the public eye. In February he resurfaced, only to state that he had been visiting relatives in Georgia. A joke that circulated around Ukraine was that he had gone to space with his cat. Chernovetskyi earned the nickname “Kosmos,” or “Spaceman,” for his bizarre behavior as mayor.

Chernovetskyi is also an accomplished amateur singer. He has released an album of him singing classic 1980s Soviet anthems. He has remarked that the only person who sings better than him is God. He said he would continue to serve in his ceremonial mayoral position until his term ends in 2012 but not run for re-election.

No list such as this would be complete sans mentioning Silvio Berlusconi, media mogul, Italian football club AC Milan owner and the prime minister of Italy. The 74-year-old has been constantly embroiled in controversies throughout his political and business careers.

He has outlasted scandals involving corruption, conflicts of interest, prostitution and inappropriate public remarks. Currently, he is on trial in Italy for having sex with an underage stripper nicknamed “Ruby the Heart Stealer.” BerlusconiâÄôs defense has gone as far as calling actor George Clooney to the witness stand.

In response to ongoing accusations, Berlusconi has responded with saying he would never pay for sex because “it takes away the thrill of the conquest.”

Shortly after President Barack ObamaâÄôs election, Berlusconi publicly stated that Obama is “young, handsome and also tanned.” The Italian media had a heyday with the remark, to which Berlusconi responded by claiming it was a compliment. There are conflicting reports as to whether he will run for re–election.

See? Things arenâÄôt so bad after all for the GOP field. Even the long shots arenâÄôt as crazy as Jesus Matayoshi or Mayor Chernovetskyi, or as corrupt as Prime Minister Berlusconi. The U.S. election is still a ways away. However, the question beckons: Should we hope it gets more or less crazy?


Ian J Byrne welcomes comments at [email protected].