Some goofs are so bad you just want the earth to swallow you up and if you happen to be a cabinet minister, constantly surrounded by the media, things are even worse. You are asked to explain the goof over and over again and made to look like a complete fool on the prime time news that night.
The news that Culture Minister Václav Jehlička, a happily married man with five children, was proposing to introduce lifelong marriages with no option of divorce gave the media a field day this week. In a country with one of the highest divorce rates in Europe the news could not pass unnoticed. People read it in disbelief and cracked jokes about it all day. Psychologists and sociologists warned that the idea was insane – and a huge step back – several centuries back, one of them noted. Commercial TV NOVA dressed up its news report with pictures of a bride and groom bound together with a ball and chain and showed excerpts from films like the war of the Roses. And then came footage with the minister himself surrounded by a pack of jostling journalists and looking rather the worse for wear. “Of course I did not propose to introduce lifelong marriages – I would have to be insane! Do I look insane to you?” Mr. Jehlička kept asking. In the end the truth came to light. When he put the respective amendment to the law forward the minister reportedly did not have an inkling that the ministry’s department of religious affairs which had had a part in drafting the bill had slipped in this particular proposal on its own initiative, considering it a good idea. Had he seen it in time, Mr. Jehlička said, he would not have put forward the draft bill. Which one can readily believe, given the fact that several cabinet ministers, including the prime minister himself, would have serious problems embracing the lifelong marriage concept. Either way, the minister is in for a good ribbing at the next cabinet meeting and it may take some time for him to live down the public disgrace. Makes one very glad really that one’s goofs never get that kind of publicity.