Is a president allowed to slouch?
Last weekend Czechs marked the 160th anniversary of the birth of the co-founder of Czechoslovakia and the country’s first president T.G. Masaryk. Although Czechs fondly refer to him as “tatíček Masaryk” or papa Masaryk, there is no doubt at all that they have enormous respect for the statesman and philosopher who in 1918 laid the founding stone of a new state and gave Czechs and Slovaks their first lessons in democracy.
There is probably no one that Czechs revere as much as they do their first leader. On the 160th anniversary of his birth there seemed to be general consensus about the need to make this icon more human. An exhibition that opened at Prague Castle was intended to portray Masaryk not just as a great leader but as a man of flesh and blood, someone who wrote amusing letters, griped, cracked jokes and was not ashamed to take his wife’s name as a show of respect at a time when such a thing was unheard of. A TV documentary showed footage of the president playing with his grandchildren in the garden, his head stuck down a hole to try and fish out some toy they had dropped.