I can’t get this image out of my head:
Tell me: why are they standing so far apart? And no, I didn't just wake up from a two-year coma, nor am I writing questions for a pub quiz in the year 2319. Why are they "socially distancing"? Don't tell me the answer is obvious.
The ostensible reason to keep your distance is to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2. But these leaders can't possibly be worried about catching COVID, because they spent the rest of the G7 summit hugging, shaking hands, and generally sharing air:
So why did they bother socially distancing for that one photo? I have a few theories.
Theory number one: they think you're a complete idiot. They think you won't notice. They think that if they put together this half-assed bit of theatre for one quick photo op, you'll be so ignorant, oblivious and incurious that you'll take it at face value. That's how little respect they have for your intelligence. Maybe.
Theory number two: they think you're a complete idiot. They think you've forgotten that almost every G7 government bungled COVID catastrophically. They think that a wink and a smile for the camera is all it takes to restore your faith in their leadership. As if they don't look like a fire brigade posing in front of the charred remains of the city they failed to save.
It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. G7 is supposed to be a club for "the good guys" - us, the nice, tolerant liberal democracies whose way of life is a shining example to the rest of the world, or at least that's what we tell ourselves. I'm still on team democracy, but Christ, don't you think Xi Jinping is looking at that photo and laughing his ass off? Do you think he doubts for a second that China will win?
But I digress. Here's my third and final theory, by no means incompatible with the first two: they're trying to project some kind of image of solidarity. Or in other words: they think you're a complete idiot. Right now in England my fully vaccinated grandfather can't visit my lonely, miserable, fully vaccinated grandmother in her fully sterilised care home except for thirty minutes every two weeks. Meanwhile, the most powerful people in the world get to party on the beach while exempting themselves from the restrictions they've imposed on the rest of us. But sure, guys, "solidarity". Maybe someone is fooled.
The saddest part is that I'd probably vote to reelect any of these pricks, if only because the lunatics who threaten to replace them will probably be even worse. But I must admit that when I look at that insincere photo, I can’t help but wonder: is it really such a mystery why so-called “populism” is so popular? Because the elites tell us we’re safe in their hands - but how could you possibly feel safe in the hands of a political class that holds you in such brazen, naked contempt?
And if I’m feeling like this, what must millions of other people be thinking?