Thursday, November 13, 2003

Dear blog,

I feel like I've been neglecting you lately. I just haven't been spending enough hours in my day surfing the web and writing stuff for my blog. All I can do is apologize. I've been working on this weird article about tennis -- yes, tennis, a sport about which I know next to nothing, about how it's the chosen sport of the Euro elite. It's for a big hotel magazine, and well, though it's an embarassingly dumb topic, I'm actually getting more money for this one assignment than I've been paid for a single assignment ever. In absolute terms, that's not saying much, but it means I should probably pay a bit of attention to it and not put off all the interviews until the last minute, my usual strategy.

As an act of contrition, I took a break and watched Vaclav Klaus's interview on BBC's HardTalk for you.

The same thought immediately struck me that strikes me every time I watch Klaus or, as happened on one occasion, speak to him in person: The man appears strangely meek and soft-spoken -- even slightly beleaguered and whiny -- especially when speaking English. I came to know Klaus, the current Czech president, not through observing him directly or on the television, but via numerous twice-removed sources -- conversations with friends, English language media, translations of Czech language media, and Czech headlines. And if I were less familiar with his actual political behavior, I might view the HardTalk interview and ask: What's the big deal? Why do people get so worked up about this guy?

I know better than to ask that question seriously, of course, and towards the end of the interview you start to get a sense of Klaus's oddly blinkered view of the world. Problems with integration of Gypsies? Pshaw! That's "such stupidity and such nonsense" that he doesn't even bother to respond.

Tim Sebastian: "...written by George Soros...."

Klaus, cutting him off: "Who?"

TS: "George Soros."

Klaus: "This is not my guru."

Ah. Well then nevermind. Ditto for Amnesty International and its allegations of Czech arms trafficking. Not an organization to be taken seriously, he says. Klaus seems to think that if you dismiss the source of the complaint, the facts will evaporate.

Finally, I'm left wondering why Klaus never names names when speaking of "certain German and Austrian politicians" that present such a danger to Czech sovereignity with their post-WWII restitution claims. But a for a few opportunists on the other side of the border, Czechs and Germans love each other, he says. Yet you can't but help but sensing a bit of projection here, and that Klaus is the opportunist for even raising this non-issue.


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