Trying to ingratiate myself to my kind weekend-in-Dorset hosts, I invited the LandMark Couple to dinner at "The Museum Inn", following their suggestion. Only now, after some googling, I realize what a strike of luck it was to be spending post-London time in that particular spot of the English countryside. As I read in www.museuminn.co.uk, this place has won the "English Inn of the Year 2005" Award. My caramelised onion tarte tatin with hot Soignon goat cheese was first class, and I'm now aware that the head-chef has achieved Michelin-star status in previous establishments.
As I did many times before, as a kind of personal tribute to the courage of Serge Hochar in growing fine wines in the Bekaa Valley, I ordered a Chateau Musar. My first bottle of Lebanese wine since Syria's withdrawal, in fact.
But why calling this blogtext "Jacques Chirac"? Well, of the free-flowing discussion at dinner what I remember most was when we tried to work it out what puts a political leader in the A-list. (Say, on the same league as Willy Brandt or Winston Churchill). What are the criteria? Who fulfills it? After some brain-storming we agreed that a leading politician should have (1) charisma/TVphotogeny, (2) specific skills (managing his party, managing government, etc.) (3) vision (but not just being the right person in the transitional period) and (4) some Renaissance Man features (being more than just a politicians' politician). Then we took names out of our hats and keep asking ourselves: does he has "It"? Is he a A-leaguer? Havel and John Paul II were leaders in all four counts, that's for sure, but what about less obvious candidates? As a case study, we submitted four famous French politicians to the 'Museum Inn Criteria': Delors, Chirac, Sarkozy and De Villepin ( note that the dinner took place on the eve of the French referendum). Delors got a clean-sweep, bien entendu. Regarding the others a consensus could not be reached. Could Chirac be given full marks in the Vision criterion? Is not Sarkozy failing in the "Renaissance" factor, precisely where De Villepin excels?
We ended up making a tour d'horizon of European leading politicians to identify those who have "It". I kindly suggest to the Honourable Reader to entertain himself in the same innocent way.