Ogling Obama at G8 Summit

g-8-2009-imageOgling is common. But it is uncommon to catch on camera the heads of nations stareing at the beautiful women in the most powerful global summits. Barack Obama was clicked by the photo journalists when he was interestingly watching a beautiful young Brazilian delegate walking up for a photo session. Nicolas Sarkozy was giving sidelook.

Rupa Sengupta writes in The Times of India (15 July 2009)

Shock and horror! Obama’s been clicked ‘ogling’ at a Brazilian delegate at the G8 do. Not only is he likely to be branded a bad hubby-cum-daddy, his ratings as Prez may nosedive. His compatriots are big on family values. Unlike the Europeans, generally cool about real or perceived familial blots. Italy’s given a long rope to scandal-prone Berlusconi. The French don’t fulminate over First Lady Carla Bruni’s pin-ups. The British saw Lady Di take comfort outside a troubled marriage and not always be a focused mother. But she was People’s Princess, in life as in death.

We in India too don’t seem to think the personal choices, peccadilloes or parental lapses of public personages determine their professional calibre or lack of it. Gandhi did bold experiments with abstinence. Nehru had a soft spot for Edwina. Indira chose career over conjugal bliss. Single-status Vajpayee wasn’t grilled about his private life. Glamour people from Dharmendra to Javed Akhtar broke with biwi number one for second marriages. People’s reaction mostly was and is: so what?

Try telling that to Oprah Winfrey enthusiasts or Bush family fans, who believe daddy-do-no-wrong or, alternatively, it-all-goes-back-to-mommy. Wacko Jacko once lived up to his alias by dangling his baby from a balcony. Today, everyone forgives Michael Jackson that transgression. All because daughter Paris has crowned him the world’s best daddy. Her “i love him so” message came at a memorial concert, where the crowds were already making mega-use of their tear ducts thanks to the gigs of hold your sobs Lionel Ritchie and John Mayer.

Jackson’s alleged pajama parties with adolescents may finally be consigned to HIStory. With his child doing him the best (if belated) PR favour before a gaping global audience, he’s been posthumously redeemed. Fatherhood, duly certified, now overshadows his music, his brilliance as an entertainer or those hot moves that spawned legions of break-dancing copycats. For large sections in America, you can be singing sensation or pop president. How good you are at your job still depends on publicly swearing that you tuck your kids into bed and sing them a lullaby or two besides.

Hell, even Obama knows that. On the campaign trail, he’d neglected onerous bedtime-story-reading duties to his two girls. In White House, he felt they needed a written apology. No, he confessed in an epistolary tear-jerker, he hadn’t been a perfect daddy. Nor a model member of that greatest of all American institutions: the family-about-to-turn-First Family. But guess what? He took wife and wards on his “adventure” of running for Prez only because he wanted wonderful things “for every child in this nation”. Even Obama-baiters must have sighed over that presidential gem in a magazine appropriately called Parade. Obama wasn’t just papa to Sasha and Malia. He was Papa of the Nation.

If only Bill Clinton had thought of dashing off a paternal mea culpa to Chelsea way back when Bush Sr attacked his family values. Not that he didn’t have a post-presidency defence strategy. Who can forget the Clintons attending Sunday church like exemplary First Citizens? If anything, Obama got great tips from his Democratic predecessor at Oval Office, and we’re not just referring to his commissioning a mandatory First Puppy. Obama’s well-publicised romantic dates with spouse recall Bill and Hillary waltzing in Martha’s vineyard (with their ‘private’ clinch somehow making it to every tabloid cover in the country).

Monicagate was to make Bill, Hillary and Chelsea look more like the Simpsons than the Clintons. But Hillary’s blame-his-mother defence of her husband was a psychobabble that floored all. Bill, she revealed in 1999, was a victim of childhood scarring. His ma and grandma fought like she-cats in toddler Bill’s presence. So he turned philanderer in retaliation!

Question: Why is it that do-little daddies get second chances while monster-mommies don’t? Answer: Britney Spears the story goes had her babies substitute gum-chewing for teeth-brushing. And that made rapper-hubby Kevin Federline seem the epitome of parental solicitude. What a no-brainer.


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