"I have never hit anybody in my life." --British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
"I sometimes hang up phones with an excess amount of enthusiasm after a call hasn't gone my way." --U.S. Rep. Anthony D. Weiner
Are Americans more thick-skinned than Brits? The news that Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown sometimes acts aggressively toward his staff--reportedly shouting, throwing Coke cans and grabbing at lapels of jackets--has Britain in uproar. Downing Street is in full damage-control mode, with cabinet ministers being paraded in front of television screens to defend Mr. Brown's temperament. Community service on the set of Teletubbies may be next.
Contrast this with how a high-profile U.S. politician's temper is covered across the pond. Brooklyn's Rep. Anthony D. Weiner is often accused of having a tendency to swear, browbeat and even throw things at staff (telephones are allegedly a favorite). One press report described how a former Marine couldn't take Mr. Weiner's temper anymore. The marine labeled him a "petulant child" before quitting.
But unlike Mr. Brown, Mr. Weiner wasn't forced to deny the accusations. And he makes it sound almost as if he's proud of his tantrums. "When you grow up in Brooklyn, you know, sometimes arguing is the sport," he told the newspaper. "I push people pretty hard. And there are, from time to time, staffers who don't take to it or just don't like being pushed that hard." No denials there. "Get a new job, wimps," is really his message.