So the Belgian Minister of Defense wants to go an get pissed in New York at the expense of the state, travelling there for a meeting that was not actually due to happen. As far as I’m concerned that’s not acceptable behaviour. Problem for him, advantage for the rest of us, is that the bar tender in New York was Flemish, knew what he was saying (and singing) and indeed knew who he was, and posted the observations on her blog. Bente, Tech Crunch and L’Echo (in French) have more on the story. Enchante has also created the Dangerous Blog banner shown here – add me to that group.
The most incredible thing has been De Crem’s reaction (as translated by Tech Crunch):
I want to take this opportunity and use this non-event to signal a dangerous phenomenon in our society. We live in a time where everybody is free to publish whatever he or she wants on blogs at will without taking any responsibility. This exceeds mud-slinging. Together with you, other Parliament members and the government I find that itâ€™s nearly impossible to defend yourself against this. Everyone of you is a potential victim. I would like to ask you to take a moment and think about this.
How the hell does he think he can get away with that? No apology, no remorse! How can one defend onself? Well Mr De Crem, you were the one that flew to New York for a non-existant meeting at the expense of the taxpayer!
I also wonder what in all of this is inherently Belgian. If the UK Minister of Defense had behaved in a similar way I cannot possibly imagine him being able to stay in his job. Same in the Nordic countries. But in Belgium, a country with smug, bickering politicians incapable of sorting themselves a coalition let alone governing the country then I suppose you can get away with behaviour like this, and the country is poorer in social terms as a result.
Perhaps there are free lunches after all … for some.
And don’t forget that De Crem acknowledged that he had somebody call the bar owner to get the girl fired. Shame!