Short answer: Because they’re idiots. While some media stooges here try to downplay the humiliating antics in South Africa Tuesday, the childish nonsense has rippled across the globe with a reaction of head-shaking bewilderment at how supposedly adult politicans would behave like imbeciles at a memorial.
David Cameron is a well brought up son of the English shires. He knows, I suspect, not to talk too loudly in church, not to help himself to the claret when invited to a dinner party and not to be rude to waiters or waitresses. He can be a bit presumptuous and thoughtless with his own MPs, which may one day have consequences. But that aside, he knows how to behave.
So why did a grinning Prime Minister today lean in to be in a “selfie” with President Obama and the leader of Denmark? She’s Neil Kinnock’s daughter-in-law, by the way. A dignified Michelle Obama looked straight ahead and refused to indulge in such ridiculous teenage antics at what, after all, was a memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
For those unaware of the concept of a “selfie”, it is a picture taken of yourself on a mobile telephonic device. A picture of the Cameron/Obama selfie being taken has emerged on the internet.
It is only yesterday that Cameron was caught during the tributes to Mandela in the Commons tweeting a picture of “little Ant’n’Dec” (small television characters who resemble the real Ant and Dec, the well-established Geordie entertainers). It seems one of his staff tweeted it, thus undermining his efforts at creating the impression of authenticity.
What on earth is going on? Why do world leaders now behave like this? And at a memorial service?
Perhaps it is just that the current generation – my generation – is so appallingly spoiled that basic notions of decorum have been shot to pieces. The materialistic search for self-gratification trumps all. Why let a fuddy-duddy thing like manners get in the way of a social media opportunity, where we can put ourselves at the centre of everything, clowning around like muppets watching a Lady Gaga concert, grinning at the camera and then tweeting the results.
Why, it’s almost as crass as releasing a photo of yourself in honor of Mandela. Oh, wait:
"We can choose a world defined not by our differences—but by our common hopes." —Obama at Mandela's memorial service: pic.twitter.com/GQdSdMLl8h
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 11, 2013