In the Western political world, dignity is often in short supply. The current parliamentary expenses scandal in the UK is humiliating local lawmakers, for instance. On other occasions, politicians choose to play for laughs, like John McCain’s appearances as a home shopping salesman on Saturday Night Live during last year’s presidential campaign. Funny, but not exactly dignified.
In China, on the other hand, the political class guards its reputation vehemently. Until now, that is. In an effort to promote his city’s international country music festival, Mayor Zhao Xiaoming agreed to be transformed into a big-toothed cartoon character and sing Take Me Home, Country Road. The mayor – who runs the city of Zhangjiajie in Hunan – took flak from critics who said it damaged his image and the “authority and dignity” of the role. But China Daily disagreed saying a dash of humour is a good way to relate to the public, and noting that tourists had responded well to Mayor Zhao’s cartoon. No celebrity endorsement fees either, the paper noted. The mayor did it for free.
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