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Monday, 8 December 2014

François Hollande's Kazakh fur hat and coat photo does wonders for his "plonker" image - yet again

The French president, François Hollande, might have a reputation for being an academic egghead  - an alumnus of the prestigious École nationale d'administration (ENA) and all that.

And he's equally well-known for cracking jokes (not always successfully) and (unfortunately) being chronically late for meetings.

But sadly, France's head of state also has a reputation for unintentionally (well, you would hope so) appearing to make a complete and utter pillock of himself - and that's putting it politely - not only with what he says (he masters the slip-of-the-tongue) but how he looks.

The rain fell on Hollande's parade (quite literally) from the very beginning (and has continued to do so with alarming frequency) in terms of his image when he got a real soaking just after being sworn in as president.

In fact, "Rain man" as Hollande has sometimes been unkindly termed, has become something of a standing joke within the media as bad weather just seems to have followed the French president from one official function to another (with the occasional exception of course).

Then there was the time, just a couple of months after being elected, during a state visit to London in July 2012 when Hollande appeared "dwarfed" by a Coldstream Guard (complete with the traditional bearskin of course) while inspecting the Guard of Honour.

A photo which amused many.

And few will forget the unfortunate snap taken by Agence France Presse during Hollande's visit to a school in Denain in northern France in September 2013 which had all the hallmarks of a "gormless grin" with Hollande seeming to "gurn".

You can see all those (and more) by searching through Twitter posts as every one of them quickly became the object of ridicule on the social network.

Just as Hollande's latest "plonker" PR (disaster) picture has.

This time it had him swaddled in a traditional Kazakh fur hat and coat as he posed with the country's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, during a meeting in Astana last week.

Aie, aie, aie!

What was Hollande thinking of?

François Hollande and Nursultan Nazarbayev (screenshot - i>Télé report)

Where was his communications team? Apparently absent or at least unable to intervene.

But even without them, did he have to make himself look like a complete buffoon?

Yes, it would seem. Hollande had little or no choice and was just doing as previous leaders (such as Barak Obama) had done before him.

Plus, the photograph was taken by Nazarbayev's official photographer and posted on the Kazakh press service's Instagram account before being withdrawn.

Too late. The anger and embarrassment at the Elysée palace was accompanied by another round of online jokes as once again, Hollande became an international laughing stock.

Great PR for the French president and for the country.

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