Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn an nwyl i mi, John
December 5, 2003 7:18 AM   Subscribe

The BBC is asking visitors of its news site to vote from a shortlist of the ten most embarrassing political moments. Visitors can watch a short film [real media] which shows all ten nominated moments (forgive the home-video moments style background muzak). There's some variety here: Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock in moments exhibiting a baffling degree of misguidedness, George W Bush and Kenneth Clarke in tight spots (figuratively and literally), while Charles Kennedy and John Prescott probably coming out of their situations looking better than they did beforehand. For me the most cringe-inducing clip is that of John Redwood, the then newly appointed Secretary of State for Wales, attempting to mime the Welsh national anthem. Genuinely difficult to watch.
posted by nthdegx (31 comments total)
Always a fan of Kinnock nearly getting swept away by a wave just after being crowned leader and the numerous instances of Gerald Ford falling over.

However, of the ones on offer Lilley's rendition of Land of Hope and Glory is one of the most excruciating things I have ever seen.
posted by johnny novak at 7:30 AM on December 5, 2003

I would vote for "President George Bush Sr. throwing up on the Japanese prime minister", but it's not on the list.

Oh, and then there was that "large, aggressive rabbit" that menaced Jimmy Carter while he was canoeing......

Or how about George W. Bush continuing to read "The Hungry Caterpillar" to 2nd graders long after it had become apparent that the US was undergoing the worst terrorist attack in it's history?

I also really liked the anecdote about Tom Delay, ex-exterminator, in a republican senatorial strategy meeting, getting a steely look of intense concentration in his eyes and then snatching a fly out of mid air, to fling to against the ground and stomp it flat.
posted by troutfishing at 7:39 AM on December 5, 2003

Oof. I don't suppose anybody has a non-Realplayer version - or is willing to convert it to one? Don't really feel like installing software that eats the unborn and testicles (in that order) this morning . . .
posted by Ryvar at 7:39 AM on December 5, 2003

I clicked in this thread to nominate the GHW Bush moment already mentioned by troutfishing.
posted by dgaicun at 7:44 AM on December 5, 2003

Dukakkis riding the tank?
posted by crunchburger at 7:45 AM on December 5, 2003

They omitted,

"I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."

Not to mention that gem,

"Well, that depends on your definition of 'is'."
posted by dhoyt at 7:48 AM on December 5, 2003

Here's my US-centric list. On preview, some have been mentioned. Political embarrassments excluded because there's too many, and are highly subjective. These are social embarrassments:

1. George H.W. Bush vomiting at a Japanese state dinner
2. Bill Clinton admitting to the Monica thing (an umbrella appellation covering a rich trove of embarrassments)
3. Billy Carter (Jimmy's bro) caught by reporters at a foreign airport, drunk, urinating on the tarmac.
4. Richard Nixon writhing in anger at Johnny Cash's command performance of the antiwar ditty "What is Truth" (Nixon's bookers had confused Cash with Merle Haggard, then on the charts with the anti-hippie "Okie from Muskogee")
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:51 AM on December 5, 2003

A lot of those I just don't get, and they are way too limey-centric. Is it just me or why was that bowling thing supposed to be embarrassing in any meaningful way? Same for that guy singing (first one). Same for most of that stuff actually.
posted by dgaicun at 7:56 AM on December 5, 2003

Ryvar, for a non-soul-sucking way to play RealMedia files, check out Real Alternative (direct download here). Despite the banner-ad choked site it's hosted on, the player itself is 100% clean and bullshit-free.
posted by zsazsa at 7:59 AM on December 5, 2003

Well, it is a lost with a UK audience in mind...
posted by nthdegx at 8:00 AM on December 5, 2003

er, list
posted by nthdegx at 8:00 AM on December 5, 2003

Thanks, nthdegx, a nice way to start the day. One of my faves not on the list was Thatcher on Nationwide, when someone called in and asked a question about the sinking of the Belgrano that floored her.
posted by carter at 8:01 AM on December 5, 2003

'peace in our time'
posted by clavdivs at 8:08 AM on December 5, 2003

to fling to against the ground and stomp it flat.

"The Democrats are next"

that was pretty good, but I think that Ken Starr's little sadistic home movie (and the subsequent illegal feeding of raw grand jury material to the media) wins the prize for "most embarrassing moment". hands down.

it can't get much worse than that

well, it'll only get worse if crowd control of those errily staged "town meetings" goes terribly awry in '04 and the President has to actually face one of those unpatriotic "Bush-killed-my-son" parents of dead GI's

posted by matteo at 8:30 AM on December 5, 2003

A link (top, on right) to a realplayer clip of the Thatcher incident I mentioned is here.
posted by carter at 8:33 AM on December 5, 2003

maybe time to dust down the old passport dgaicun, assuming of course that you have one.
posted by johnny novak at 10:26 AM on December 5, 2003

clueless bush was kinda sad, and the last three were pretty funny, actually. A lot of the others didn't seem that embarrassing (tight squeeze was funny, but he handled it well; some of the others I just didn't get).
posted by mdn at 11:08 AM on December 5, 2003

maybe time to dust down the old passport dgaicun

Will it endow me with the cultural sensibilities to understand the significance of the bowling gaff?
posted by dgaicun at 11:09 AM on December 5, 2003

Thanks, carter... I was about to go looking for one...
posted by nthdegx at 11:11 AM on December 5, 2003

Will it endow me with the cultural sensibilities to understand the significance of the bowling gaff?

On reflection, perhaps not, two countries separated by a common language and all that jazz...

Maybe we'll just have to agree that I say tomato and you say tomatoe.
posted by johnny novak at 11:33 AM on December 5, 2003

I'd still like to slap that wanker Kinnock for that Sheffield rally. Way to lose the election, tosspot.
posted by squealy at 11:35 AM on December 5, 2003

An oldie but in my opinion a goodie-during the Democratic convention that selected Dukakis, a governor from Arkansas gave what seemed to be the longest speech in convention history. When the end finally came, the applause was mostly for the fact the speech was OVER.

I turned to my husband and said, "That guy has no future in politics."

It was Bill Clinton.
posted by konolia at 11:42 AM on December 5, 2003

You're talking about an inferior and outdated boys' club who've made leashes and collars on men popular, signing documents for the cameras and then keeping the expensive taxpayer-paid pens with smug looks on their faces. Politics are embarrassing by default.

It'd be easier to make a concise short list of ten moments in political history that weren't in some way embarrassing. ...come to think of it. Off the top of my head I can't think of three!
posted by ZachsMind at 12:16 PM on December 5, 2003

Well, konolia, my own personal "most embarrassing political moment" occurred in a traffic jam on the streets of West L.A. in the mid '80s, listening to an NPR report about the then-emerging DNC and its then-emerging leader Clinton being soundbyted about "making the Democratic Party more friendly to business". I rolled my eyes and shook my head, thinking "There's one big time political crook... he'll probably end up President", then realized I was stuck in the middle of an intersection as the light turned, about a half-block from a LAPD station where the cops drew straws for who'd get to bust me for a "Gridlock Ticket" (the most costly traffic infraction I've ever been fined for, originally passed by the City Council before the L.A. Olympics in '84 when they were in abject terror over traffic issues).

But I digress...
posted by wendell at 12:20 PM on December 5, 2003

Canadian PM Jean Chretien's reply to a question about the pepper-spraying of protesters at the 1997 APEC summit in Vancouver - "For me, pepper, I put it on my plate" - has got to be one of the highest-ranking embarassing moments in recent Canadian politics.

Yeah, that one - and when he skipped the funeral of King Hussein of Jordan. Oops.

But then again, Chretien did defend himself against an intruder who broke into his official residence using an Inuit soapstone carving as a weapon, which maybe cancels these two out.
posted by gompa at 12:31 PM on December 5, 2003

Gompa: don't forget his "joint in one hand & money for the fine in the other" comment a few months ago. Although I'm not sure which side of the equation that goes on.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:20 PM on December 5, 2003

I thought Boris Yeltsin dancing was kind of cute.
posted by jennyb at 3:06 PM on December 5, 2003

Wow, I still can't get over that Pres. Bush clueless interview. Not a proud day for us Americans. And the only other clip that I recognized was Boris Yeltsin's vodka dance. Although the anthem lipsync one was pretty embarassing, especially since it was in the man's own country!
posted by nyukid at 3:07 AM on December 6, 2003

Ah. John Redwood isn't Welsh. Tories don't enjoy much support in Wales, which I guess is what leads to an Englishman being made Secretary of State...
posted by nthdegx at 6:19 AM on December 6, 2003

Yet another nomination for George H.W. Bush throwing up on the Japanese prime minister.

Of those shown, I giggled at the national anthem lip sync. Was that bad? ; )
posted by SisterHavana at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2003

Genuinely difficult to watch.

I wonder if that moment didn't tip the scales in favour of devolution in Wales? When he was appointed Secretary of State for Wales, Welsh Tories had maybe two seats in Westminister (which they lost in the 1997 general election). The fact that Wales was seen as nothing more than a training ground for promising young ministers was never clearer. At least his successor had the sense to marry a Welsh speaker and get her to teach him the words.
posted by ceiriog at 5:00 AM on December 7, 2003

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