Last December, the EU appointed as president a relatively unknown Belgian politician, Herman Von Rompuy. Europeans have since been bemoaning the fact that their new leader is such a colorless, uninspiring fellow (although reportedly expert at backroom maneuvers).
But woe to any Member of the European Parliament who says any such thing out loud! UK MEP Nigel Farage did just that, saying that Van Rompuy had the "charisma of a damp rag" and the appearance of a "low-grade bank clerk," language Farage said would have been normal in the UK House of Commons. He made the comments during Van Rompuy's maiden appearance in the Parliament.
The reaction: horror and outrage, and now threats to discipline Farage. Apparently 'vivid political debate' is acceptable, but not personal insults or comments about someone's personal appearance. This, you understand, from a parliamentary body that routinely accuses the United States of dastardly motives and actions....not to mention what its members said about former President Bush. I'm glad to know they have standards!