The case of the partying prime minister

Source: Hot Air

There’s a debate raging today over the propriety of a national leader being caught in a situation like this, particularly at a moment of crisis.

Although I’ve gotta say: The men in my Twitter timeline are all but unanimously on Team Sanna. Go figure.

“Sanna” is Sanna Marin, the conspicuously attractive 36-year-old prime minister of Finland. It would be unbecoming for Boris Johnson or Olaf Scholz or, God help us, Joe Biden to cut loose like this — it would kill Joe, frankly — and not just because they’re heads of government. Partying is for the young!

But Marin is young. Who among us would begrudge a thirtysomething the need to blow off some steam after a tough stretch at work involving, uh, overseeing her country’s accession to NATO during an international standoff with Russia?

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Honestly, the world would be a better, safer place if Putin got together with friends occasionally to get drunk and dance.

Back to Marin. When the PM gets some down time, she really leans into it:

Although … maybe this isn’t the choicest moment to be voluntarily incapacitated?

Eh, they’ll be part of NATO soon. They can leave the national defense stuff to Uncle Sam.

I’m torn between finding it admirable that Marin doesn’t let the gravitas of her job prevent her from being a normal person and admitting that I’d probably dunk on a political figure whom I disliked if they got caught behaving in an undignified manner. As Dan McLaughlin said, whether you find this episode charming or disqualifying depends on what you think of Marin more generally. Most Americans, I suspect, would lean towards charming on grounds that it makes her relatable. But if she’s bad at her job (and I’m unqualified to say if she is), it’d be easy for Finns to view this as the final straw.

As of April, her government’s approval rating was 55/37. She can’t be doing that badly.

But there’s another wrinkle. Was alcohol the only substance being consumed at this party?

Some media outlets have reported that the term jauhojengi (or “powder gang”, a reference to cocaine usage) can be heard in one of the clips. However, social media users have pointed out that the term used is more likely to be “jallujengi” or “jallu jenny”, an apparent reference to the Finnish liquor Jaloviina…

The Prime Minister said that she had consumed mild alcoholic beverages, but no drugs.

“Personally, I did not take drugs, nor did I consume anything other than alcohol. I danced, sang, and partied – perfectly legal things. And I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve seen or known of others [using drugs],” Marin said.

She offered to take a drug test to prove it. Is cocaine even illegal in Finland? You know how tolerant the Scandinavians are.

Marin’s political opponents are naturally trying to make hay of the episode. “Just for the sake of the discussion in public, it would be wise if the prime minister Marin Sanna voluntarily went through a drug screening,” tweeted a Finnish MP along with the hashtag “jauojengi.” There’s also inherent political peril in a national leader enjoying themselves in any way, no matter how innocuously, since it leaves them open to the charge that they’re callous to the suffering of their constituents:

No partying in Finland until electricity prices come down? Should she be sitting alone in a dark room instead to atone?

I assume this episode won’t do her any real political harm, and not just because her age offers a ready excuse. Marin has made a point in the past of saying that she wants to remain a normal person as much as possible given the limitations of her job. “I want to show that there are ordinary people with ordinary lives in these jobs. I have a family life, I have a work life and I have free time to spend with my friends. Pretty much the same as many people my age,” she’s stated. All she did by attending that party is prove that she meant it.

I’ll leave you with this, a photo of her at a festival in Finland held last month. When she says she’s trying to keep it real, she’s not kidding.