Despite all outward appearances, Boris Johnson is the UK's new foreign secretary, and not the inspiration for the cartoon character Baby Huey. He's settling into his new job comfortably enough, with a blistering and deeply uncomfortable press conference that is a real thrill to watch, especially with the added bonus of John Kerry squirming off to the side.
A reporter for the AP brought up Boris' past remarks on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — some jaw-droppingly racist and sexist statements — and asked if he'd like to apologize; Boris of course refused. Kerry stood at a nearby podium, probably feeling profound relief that the reporter had not gone after him — until then he did.
Johnson: Such a rich thesaurus of things I've said… take me too long to engage in a full global itinerary of apology https://t.co/oWLFQVSJfH
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) July 19, 2016
Among the passages from Boris' creative writing endeavors: Barack Obama harbors a part-Kenyan's "ancestral dislike for the British empire."
Hillary Clinton, Boris also wrote, has "dyed-blonde hair and pouty lips, and steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital."
Another reporter asked, "You have an unusually long history of wild exaggerations and, frankly, outright lies that, I think, few foreign secretaries have prior to this job. And, I’m wondering, how Mr. Kerry and others should believe what you say considering this very, very long history?"
Boris responded that his comments were misconstrued and that there are more important things to talk about, such as the recent coup in Egypt. The fact that the coup was actually in Turkey, not Egypt, is a minor detail.
Perhaps Boris simply wishes to avoid discussing Turkey because he once wrote an award-winning limerick about its president that began, "There was a young fellow from Ankara/Who was a terrific wankerer." I am not making that up.
Kerry, to his credit, did his best to say nice things about the new foreign secretary: a childhood friend of Boris' had assured Kerry that "this man is a very smart and capable man." Of those comments, Kerry added, "it’s called diplomacy."
Ah, diplomacy. So dignified, so genteel. So perfect a context for a man who once wrote, on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's visit to Congo, "The tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down."