“Lame Leader” of the Week? Does “lame” adequately convey the idiocy of Barclays recently resigned CEO, Bob Diamond?

I’m not even talking about whatever is his responsibility for Barclays’ role in the scandal over interest rate manipulation. Nor am I talking about how his own exorbitant pay packages were way out of line with Britain’s corporate culture. Nor, for that matter, am I talking about the rebukes he received from politicians and regulators, who objected to his behaviors regarding taxes.

What I am talking about is Diamond’s idiotic arrogance testifying this week before Britain’s House of Commons. Instead of doing what is right and proper, referring to his interlocutors by their full names, or by their titles, or even not at all, he called them by their first names! Can you believe it?! It’s as if the Solicitor General appeared before the justices of the Supreme Court and instead of referring to them in a manner befitting the occasion, he or she called them, “John,” or “Ruth,” or “Clarence,” or “Sonia.” It’s just not done!

That’s one of several lessons Bob Diamond apparently never learned. Listen to this exchange between Robert Siegel, host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and Teresa Pearce, a Labor Member of Parliament and of the Committee that questioned Diamond.

Pearce: “I was surprised that he [Diamond] continually addressed us by our first names . . . . It seemed inappropriate and showed a lack of respect.”

Siegel: “In previous parliamentary hearings, have you had witnesses who’ve addressed you as Teresa or the others by their first names?”

Pearce: “No, normally when people come before us, we give them the respect of giving them their full titles…. So, we all called him Mr. Diamond, but he called us by our first names, And as Members of Parliament in the chamber, we don’t even address each other by our names. We address each other as The Right Honorable Member of whatever you are, you know. So The Right Honorable Member for Hammersmith, or The Right Honorable Member for Oxford.… It was a very formal hearing, and [Diamond] was just inappropriate.”

Hard to imagine what Diamond was trying to prove by being so absurdly informal in this most formal of settings. That he was cool? That he was a free-wheeling American among stuffy old Brits? That he was confident and in control as his world was crumbling around him? Whatever it was, he failed dismally to do anything other than make himself look a fool.

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