French president Francois Hollande had a Michael Stanley Dukakis moment when he decided to inspect the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards on Wednesday during his first visit to London as President of France.
Dukakis, the 65th and 67th Governor of Massachusetts and Democratic presidential nominee in 1988, was nationally ridiculed after hopping in a military tank and riding around with his head sticking out of an armored hatch during his campaign. Fortunately for Hollande, he has already won his election. Mr. Dukakis’ campaign imploded after the tank incident.
Nevertheless, Hollande is the butt of jokes and is facing ridicule from some of his citizens for posing in pictures where he was dwarfed by the tall Guards. The photo-op gone awry seemed to over shadow the significance of his first official visit to the United Kingdom, according to a Yahoo news blog.
Hollande, who is 5'7'', was photographed alongside a formation of guards wearing their tall black bearskin helmets, which added to the contrast between guards and his diminutive frame.
Comments on a website of pictures taken by Agence France-Presse, the country's national news agency, suggested Hollande had fallen into a 'trap' made to make him look ridiculous, according to the Daily Mail of London.
'Poor France,' wrote Jean-Marc Rameau, from Paris, while Dmitri Kovaley mocked Hollande with the words 'Dwarfs rule the world', the Daily Mail noted.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France, was only 5’5” tall and went to lengths to disguise his stature, including standing on his tiptoes and on wooden boxes, as well as wearing stacked heels, the newspaper reported.
"I find it ridiculous, not because of (Mr Hollande's) size, but because he falls easily into the traps that Sarkozy knew how to avoid," wrote a poster under the name 'Councillor De Mist' and reported in the Telegraph.
Ironically, the Coldstreams assisted in the defeat of the diminutive Napoleon Bonaparte and his army at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Waterloo ended Napoleon's reign, and the French consider it one their most shameful defeats.
Despite the media’s obsession with the photos, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he and Hollande had "good discussions" on issues of trade, foreign policy, and defense cooperation between the UK and France. Hollande also met Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle during his visit to Britain.