The Coolest President in the World - Really? ({{commentsTotal}})

Throughout the entire weekend, Estonian media and social media - and I suppose, the “progressive” part of the world’s media - was tooting about the president of the Republic taking a selfie in front of the Song Festival stage, with the choirs in the background. It really is remarkable - as if tens of thousands of song festival guests had never done anything like it. However, be that as it may, the picture is nice and let’s leave it at that.

Unfortunately, other images also made rounds in the media, images that showed the same president, who was so pleased about posing with the choirs, slumping in the front row, looking bored, absorbed in his mobile phone.

These images are available online, yet no one seems to think it strange that our president has once again (I’ve lost count of the number of times, there are simply too many to count) demonstrated his rudeness and lack of common courtesy.

To come to a song festival - a sort of religious event for most Estonians, a real collective rite - and then to sit in the front row and start tapping on his phone like a teenager at a bus stop? No matter which way you look at it, it is inappropriate.

And don’t tell me that our hip and progressive prime citizen had to attend to important state matters there and then! This could have been dealt with in a more inconspicuous manner, not in front of cameras and leaving a wrong impression like this.

And then to climb in front of the choirs with a sweet grin on his face to take a selfie, to show everyone who still don’t get it who’s the real boss and star of the song festival, is almost equal to the tour de force of a former minister of culture.

As is well known, the latter climbed to the conductor’s stand and began flailing away, even though she had nothing to do with the event and was certainly not on the list of choir conductors.

This is why it is almost impossible to agree with the opinion voiced online that we have the coolest president in the world. No, we don’t. We have a man, who is not familiar with common courtesy and as such, is not fit for office, because, although fond of foreign quotes, he does not understand the true meaning of the latin phrase quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi.

No, it does not mean that those on the guest list can do anything they want and the mob should keep silent. What it means is noblesse oblige. Nobility obliges. And who else if not the president should set an example to the people not by taking selfies but by being dignified on all occasions?

Peeter Helme is a journalist, critic and author. This is a translation of a piece originally published in Estonian on uudised.err.ee.