12 August 2010

Short World Leaders

The Lineup (Photo courtesy of the Beeb)

I have recently noticed, in my daily scouring of sundry news-sheets and gazettes, the current dearth of tall world leaders, in the tradition of political giants George Washington (6'2"), Peter the Great (6'7"), Abraham Lincoln (6'4"), Charles de Gaulle (6'5"), and Henry VIII (6'2"). Many of today's heads of state tower far below the height reached by Napoleon Bonaparte (5'6") in an age when the average Frenchman was 5'5"!

So, what gives? Let me present the evidence; it is up to you, dear reader, to determine whether this pint-sized trend is merely an aberration or the result of an Yalie-Freemason cabal.

Vanished Titans: Seventeenth-century king Philip IV of Spain, standing next to his head minister, the Count-Duke of Olivares (painting by Velazquez). Though beset by the traditional bane of the Hapsburgs, the lantern jaw, Philip grew so rapidly in his youth that the ceilings of his private quarters in the Royal Palace of Madrid had to be raised three times between 1615 and 1625.

I have divided these short world leaders into several categories based on their height, and, correspondingly, their willingness to collude with one another to keep politicians with measurements more representative of the national everyman (and -woman) away from high office.

The European Community: The 5'5" Gang

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany (avg. height: 5'5")

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France (avg. height: 5'9")

Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy (avg. height: 5'9")

Former President of the United States George W. Bush (5'11") normally would tower over French President Nicolas Sarkozy (5'5"), who is here wearing platform shoes with 6-inch heels (these?) to disguise his horrible shortness.

The Napoleon Complex: Shorter than my Grandma

Dmitri Medvedev, President of Russia: 5'2" (avg.: ?'?")

Kim Jong-il, Absolute Monarch of North Korea: 5'3" (avg.: 5'8" in S. Korea)

Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, President of Iran: 5"3" (avg: 5'7")

Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe: 5"3" (avg.: ?'?")

Pint-sized Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, whose distrust and fear of his lankier ministers and political rivals might be partially responsible for his secretive and autocratic nature.

Some Other Kind of Short Dudes: Shortocrats

Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Russia: 5'7" (avg.: ?'?")

Hu Jintao, President of China: 5'8" (avg.: 5'8")

Here Bush meets with former Russian president and only moderately short leader Vlad Putin. Sadly, the giant current U.S. president Barack Obama (6'1") refused to meet with his Russian peer, Dmitri Medvedev (5'2"), because of their comically enormous difference in stature.

Political Giants: The Six-Foot Society

Barack Obama, President of the United States: 6'1" (avg.: 5'10")

David Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain: 6'0" (avg.: 5'9")

Steven Harper, Prime Minister of Canada: 6'2" (avg.: 5'9")

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel: 6'0" (avg.: 5'9")

Well, I hope that you have enjoyed this installment of the Cabinet. I will see you on the radio (not really, but I wish I had a show on BBC Radio 4).

Good morrow!


  1. What about Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, who stands at nearly 6"3'?

  2. This stereotype is called heightism...


  3. Just stumbled upon this, very thorough and useful post, thanks! (Putin looks SO short in this photo: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/08/world/europe/obama-cancels-visit-to-putin-as-snowden-adds-to-tensions.html)

  4. "...to disguise his horrible blackness" People don't choose their height or skin colour so why the attitude?


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