The British have a phrase for someone who is blessed by unending, and perhaps not entirely earned, good fortune: jammy bugger. Boris Johnson is a jammy bugger. If there were gold medals for shameless piggybacking on an international sporting event, then London’s mayor (perhaps we should call him the right honourable jammy bugger) would stagger under the weight of his trophies.
Mr. Johnson was not even mayor when London bid for and won the games in a hotly contested fight with Paris in 2005. The hard graft was done by his predecessor and arch-rival, Ken Livingstone, whom Mr. Johnson defeated in mayoral elections in 2008 and May of this year. But Mr. Johnson, the ever-quotable former journalist, has made sure to make political hay while the Olympic sun shines.
He’s had a special service performed on his person at the athletes’ village. His message to commuters startles half-awake passengers on London’s tube and buses, reminding them to leave more time for their jouneys. At a huge concert in Hyde Park last night, he led a call-and-response rebuttal to Mitt Romney’s criticism of Games preparedness, and managed to sneak in a sly boost for Mr. Romney’s opponent: “Are we ready? Yes, we are!”
Mr. Johnson is a journalist’s dream because whatever comes out of his mouth seems channelled from a far stranger universe, part P.G. Wodehouse, part Monty Python : “The geiger counter of Olympomania is going to go zoink!” he said at the Hyde Park concert. And tonight’s opening ceremony will wash away any bitter memories of pre-games upheaval, he told the BBC. “People are going to well up with hot tears of patriotic pride when they see this.”
Almost as if he’s coated in some sort of charm Teflon, Mr. Johnson has seen all hint of scandal – whether involving women or crass remarks – slide off him. His Olympics glow even has some Tory MPs casting him as their party’s next saviour.
If Mr Johnson is the winner in the pre-Olympic games, then the loser is surely the minister for sports, media and culture, Jeremy Hunt, who had an unfortunate accident with a bell this morning. Mr. Hunt, who was recently in very hot water over his involvement in a bid by Rupert Murdoch to take over Britain’s largest cable broadcaster, must have been looking forward to the Olympics as a bit of a good-news boost for his career. Then, taking part this morning in artist Martin Creed’s “All the Bells,” a country-wide bell-ringing extravaganza, Mr. Hunt experienced a politician’s worst nightmare: A wayward prop meeting an innocent bystander.
So far in the sprint for 10 Downing St., the medal counts stands: Mr. Johnson 1, Mr. Hunt 0.