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Does Sanna Marin Need to Go Back to Finnishing School?
An Informal Interview with my Wife About "Partygate"
“They were disgusted at his ill-timed drunkenness, his extravagant spending, his cavorting with women, his days spent in sleeping off his debauches or wandering about with an aching head and befuddled wits, and his nights spent in revels or watching lavish spectacles or attending the wedding feast of some actor or comedian.” - Plutarch [Antony, 9]
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As you may or may not have seen over the last two weeks, Finland’s young, “hip,” attractive, hawkish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin- the world’s youngest world leader- has come under fire for her late night antics with Finland’s minor internet celebrities. You can find a good summary in this article from the British tabloid The Daily Mail. Before I go any farther, I need to give (credit/blame) to my friend who comments on these posts as dädinand for the (epic/terrible) (dad joke/pun) in the title. Upon taking office, the 36 year old Marin, who has publicly espoused the value of a work-life balance, said she would continue with recreational activities appropriate for a woman of her age while in office [though unfortunately she appears to think her age is 21.] In her instance, she considers this to mean music festivals and clubbing. On August 7th she had a very long night out with some “friends,” and three videos of her night have subsequently been leaked to the press by unknown parties. The reactions have been mostly predictable, with some such as this allegedly credible lunatic implying the videos were released by Russia to discredit her [she does a perfectly good job of that herself], conservatives calling for her resignation, women dancing in solidarity, and the more measured people simply asking who would have been in charge in an emergency. This is the second time Marin has got in trouble for such things, as she humorously went clubbing after a “covid contact” in December of 2021, breaking asinine protocols that never worked, and then couldn’t be contacted to inform her she was violating recommendations, as she had left her official phone- that she is mandated to carry- at home. [She insists they were able to contact her on her “Parliamentary” phone that she usually uses, she just didn’t have her official Prime Minister’s phone.] Hilariously, she basically said nothing bad ever happens at night so it’s fine, with the BBC quoting her as saying:
"I don't remember a single time that there was a sudden situation in the middle of the night to go to the State Council Palace. I think my ability to function was really good. There were no known meetings on the days I was partying."
This is extremely humorous compared to the proverbial “3 AM phone call” in American politics, and were Russia to invade, which she insists is a danger, it would absolutely be at the break of dawn when she has admitted to finally getting home. [Some also praised her partying stamina, which is fair.]
I’ve been hesitant to write about this for a few reasons, despite finding it all interesting and amusing. Essentially, I struggled to find a “take” of sufficient value to merit my putting out an opinion. The premise of writing an article slut-shaming the Prime Minister of Finland is hilarious, but not actually a good use of my time and probably not a net-positive contribution to the world. I’m not prudish so I’m not really offended by a woman behaving this way, though it doesn’t reflect positively on her level of responsibility- I also like to party, and am quite irresponsible. As a man, I don’t have particular insight into what this says about how society views women. I do dislike politicians who seem to love fame [her behavior was described as “celebrity ass-licking” by a columnist of a major Swedish newspaper.] One aspect I do find important, as is established by my whole prior body of work in this newsletter, is that I am a big believer in neutrality, and think she is unwise for trying to join NATO and abandoning the nation’s longstanding neutrality. For her part, she doesn’t act like someone who genuinely fears a Russian invasion. Michael Tracey’s take is that that it’s interesting the hip young prime minister is militaristic [trying to join a military alliance is inherently a militaristic solution to a real or perceived problem] and it was predictably said that his observation demonstrated he just wanted to date her.
After some time, I realized that my defense to such charges is also my unique take: my wife is basically just like this woman [though younger and more attractive.] She looks and dresses like her. She is a feminist who loves to party. Beyond which, while an excellent wife and mother, there is no question that she is not qualified or responsible enough to lead even a minor country during peace time, much less a major potential flashpoint in a time of war. And thus, my take will be interviewing my wife, Alexis, a 32 year old woman of similar interests, appearance, and background to Sanna Marin about what we should take from this scandal. Amusingly, like Marin my wife is even also from what Marin likes to call a “Rainbow family” with two moms, and we used to be vegetarians like Marin- though we eat fish now. We have a 3 year old and Marin has a 4 year old. Further, Alexis is an enormous fan of Rage Against the Machine, whom Marin identifies as her favorite band. Besides not being a politician and not being a Russian hawk, the similarities are spooky. Further, Alexis is a professional bartender and has been one for around 10 years, and is thus extremely experienced at reading the behavior and relative intoxication of drunk people. Due to all of these things, she is uniquely qualified to comment on Marin’s behavior. The following are some of the things she said, upon viewing the material in the order it was released.
Here is the first video to be released, from what has came to be known as “Partygate.” This one I initially thought it was silly to care about:
Alexis’s first comment about this was to find it strange and say “This seems like someone trying to get TikTok famous.” And indeed, the other people are primarily minor Finnish internet celebrities she for some reason chooses to hang out with. News Australia reported the following [it is unclear why one face is blurred]:
“According to the Iltalehti newspaper, several Finnish public figures can be seen in the video including the singer Alma, influencer Janita Autio, TV host Tinni Wikström, YouTuber Ilona Ylikorpi, radio host Karoliina Tuominen, stylist Vesa Silver and MP Ilmari Nurminen from Ms Marin’s Social Democratic Party.”
[Note: my translate function is not working for no obvious reason, so I’m relying wholly on English language media for this article.]
Alexis went on to say,
“She doesn’t even necessarily look like someone you would trust to be president of a sorority. I feel like I’m not in a position to judge because I also act like that but I’m not the leader of a country.”
She went on to ask for confirmation that they were celebrities not her cabinet members [apparently one was an MP from her party] and then to say she can see why people would be upset.
What is not obvious to English viewers is someone in the background says “flour gang,” a presumed reference to cocaine use. Some people on the internet claim you can see a line of cocaine in the video, but I have watched it several times and do not see the following image within the video [the cocaine is cropped from the preview, you need to click through to see it.]:
Marin took a drug test which came back negative. This proves nothing, as if you know anything about partying you would know it is common to do cocaine occasionally at a party and it only stays in your system for a few days; no one is claiming she is a drug addict, they’re claiming she is irresponsible when she parties, which the sheer fact of all of these videos coming out kind of proves by itself.
By the next video, they had made it to a club:
This video Alexis had quite a lot more to say about. Regarding her close dancing with this Finnish pop star she said, “That hand placement alone, that is not how you dance with a friend.” She went on to ask, “Can we confirm her husband in fact exists?” Which we did. After which she shouted who would elect me to be the leader of a country!” [Alexis doesn’t dance with other men like this, though.] “In isolation if you hadn’t seen the first video you would think “Ugh, cringe” about her dancing with another man like that when she is married.”
Alexis also observed a similar thing as Max Blumenthal about her dancing to “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas, saying “I thought we all agreed to stop listening to this song, except maybe at weddings or bar mitzvahs.”
Sanna Marin is clearly what some call a “woo girl,” and with too many responsibilities to be one. Alexis pointed out, “How young and hip could she possibly be if she dances to the Black Eyed Peas.” She then made the following observations:
“This is really embarrassing for her husband even if they had a mutual understanding. It’s not a good look. It’s not the kissing, it’s where their hands are. Its not that the hands were in a sexual position but that’s an inherently intimate way to be holding someone”
The BBC reported the following:
“At Friday's news conference, a reporter claimed he seemed to kiss the prime minister on the neck - but she denied that, and said he was talking to her, and possibly kissed her cheek.
"If someone has kissed me on the cheek, there's nothing inappropriate or something I can't handle or tell my husband," she said.”
Someone drunkenly lightly kissing her cheek is the least of the issues here, from a spousal fidelity perspective. Alexis went on to make two more humorous observations,
“Kind of funny they’re listening to “I’ve Got A Feeling” while he’s feeling up the Prime Minister of Finland, he really got a feeling,” and then said, “I’m thinking either she can’t handle her booze well or she’s not done with the streets.” [The last part is an inside joke, she doesn’t generally speak about women that way.]
Marin, alternately, described her alcohol consumption as “moderate,” and went on to claim she walked to her car normally and went home at 4:30 AM, seemingly without verifying if she had a designated driver, which is especially strange as there was at least some discussion of whether or not she was in an official [taxpayer funded] car. She even claimed she “woke up feeling normal the next morning” which could not possibly be true. Alexis says she was unable to do that at age 20, and absolutely cannot at age 32.
The next video to be released is from later in the same night, and shows her dancing with a female model/reality TV show participant:
Alexis’s first question about this was if it was during the day, seeing the light through the window. It was actually sunrise, in the summer at the 60th parallel, so perhaps around 4 AM. She then asked why she isn’t going to VIP rooms where they don’t let people carry phones and take pictures, and I pointed out with these being minor celebrities, this probably is a VIP room. To that she asked, “Then why are they playing such shitty music?”
At this point, she had great insight from personal experience, regarding the seemingly very sexual dancing with another woman. She said,
“She was grabbing at her dress, that looked less intimate. When chicks are shitfaced they grab onto each other to hold themselves up as a unit. Frankly, I think its more embarrassing that she’s just that shitfaced not that she’s dancing that sexually with a woman. To me her body language screamed that she was drunk not that she was into the other chick.”
This, of course, is in contrast to Marin’s claims that she drank a moderate amount and was fine to handle any government business which may have arisen. In the state where we live, as a bartender my wife is legally responsible for knowing if you can continue to safely serve people, and the state is strict, so I doubt she is incorrect about Marin’s level of intoxication. Alexis then went on to quip, “Is she like trying to goad Putin for hating gay people or something? Maybe this is how she puts on a brave face, she gets the drunk courage since they’re so threatened by Russia.” She then proceeded to acknowledge that Marin seems fun to hang out with, and said, “I wonder what kind of tequila she drinks.” I pointed out that as a Finn she probably drinks vodka [or like reindeer milk liquor, what do I know about Finland] and she responded, “woo girls, though, you know, generally drink tequila.”
After this, a picture came out of this same model she is dancing with kissing another woman while holding her shirt up at the official summer residence of the Finnish Prime Minister. When I first heard this described, them having said it was at a sauna and topless women kissing, I assumed it was an intimate but appropriate moment between a same-sex couple who were topless because they were in a sauna, but no:
Alexis’s first comment upon seeing this was, “I don’t even know if I took pictures that trashy in college and I did a lot of trashy things in college. Wait, I did take pictures this trashy in college, I remember now,” and then laughed and asked, “That’s at the Prime Minister’s house?”
[This model is in her early 30s, by the way.]
Indeed, this is like a picture slutty sorority girls would send to their Date Dash dates or something. What kind of grown ass adult takes a picture like this? Alexis said, “I kinda get the inclination to take a photo that trashy when you’re somewhere fancy,” and noted they were clearly there for a house party based on attire [the party followed a music festival they all attended.]
She then proceeded to make the following truly horrific observation:
“I mean fuck imagine if we found a picture of Michelle Obama with USA across her tits making out with Nancy Pelosi or something.”
Now that we all need to gouge our brains out, she said if the house is taxpayer funded obviously they shouldn’t be behaving this way. [Something Marin acknowledged- there’s no way to know if she knew this photo existed in advance of the public unless I missed her admitting it.]
Alexis then asked, “What happens if one of her drunk friends answers her phone? I mean if you’re that obviously careless with the shit you’re doing out in public and think its funny to take pictures like that why wouldn’t you think it was funny to answer the Prime Minister’s emergency phone in the middle of the night.” Indeed, if you’re drunk and irresponsible enough to behave this way, what is to stop someone from thinking it is funny to answer the Prime Minister’s official phone and say something crazy, her example being “Hello daddy Putin!”
For the time being, this is the end of the leaks. Marin then cried while addressing her political party, which is strange for someone who purports to have nothing to be ashamed of. Politicians crying is always incredibly cringe, and it is only slightly less bad coming from a woman.
Alexis said of this video: “That’s not really an apology. She’s allowed to to dance and drink with her friends but obviously do it in private. Also how effective can you be at your job incredibly hungover.”
Of course, Marin claims she wasn’t hungover and woke up at a normal time after leaving the club at 4:30 AM, something which is basically physically impossible for 36 year old to do unless she was in fact woken up with cocaine.
Alexis’s closing remarks on the videos were this:
“I’m a human and I need to have fun too, of course that goes without saying, stop being so trashy. We all know that world leaders probably drink heavily and party hard but there’s not videos of it, at least ones that we’ve seen. She’s clearly not responsible enough to be a world leader. She’s not even responsible enough to think to go to places where you’re not allowed to bring a phone in so you’re not getting recorded. Does she even have security with her?”
The last part quite a few people asked, being as in Marin’s mind her small country is at grave risk from a much larger, aggressive neighbor. It would be extremely easy to harm her in a variety of ways if she behaves like this and Russia chose to do so.
This part of the interview over with, I went on to ask her a few more questions about the social and political aspects I am the most interested in. The first question was what she thinks about the women dancing in “solidarity,” to which she responded “obviously the dancing is not the issue.” And indeed, most of the women making these videos are dancing alone on their patio with at most one glass of wine or that sort of thing. If she had posted a video like that on a Monday and said something such as, “I hope all the Finns have a rocking week!” It would have been kind of lame and awkward but no sort of political controversy. Hillary Clinton defended her going clubbing while in this position, so she has one of the worst people in the world on her side:
Imagine the horror of being at the club and running into Hillary Clinton, though I imagine that is actually a street carnival of some sort.
Alexis went on to say that it is not prudish to be concerned about this, especially as we don’t know how frequently she parties, only that she got in trouble for it twice [three times including the topless photo.]
I then asked if she thought there was a double standard being applied, and if a male politician would be treated differently:
“People would not think a male leader acting like this was appropriate. I’m sure the White House has its own room that is just for like doing blow off of hookers’ assholes but at least we keep that out of the public knowledge. While its easy to picture Bill Clinton doing that we don’t have a picture of Bill Clinton doing that.”
Granted, Clinton was in office before the advent of the phone camera; who knows what we may have seen if there was modern technology in the ‘90s.
However she did also say, “Besides the one video with the guy I don’t think any of what she did is slutty I think its just drunk shit,” which, of course, is not what you want from a leader.
I then asked why women are so eager to defend Marin:
“I also hate the patriarchy but I don’t like it when women feel like they have to defend every single woman when they’re acting like assholes just because they’re a woman. That is also sexist. If there was a male PM the same age having a bunch of videos grinding on women they would try to recall him or whatever their process is. And I say this as a woman only slightly younger than her who also likes to get drunk and make a fool of myself.”
I’m reminded of Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation who is obsessed with actual war criminals such as Madelaine Albright simply because they are women in positions of power and who clearly holds no standards for the behavior of women as long as that woman has power in a traditionally male dominated space.
I also asked what she thinks about the fact that they are all [minor] celebrities, as opposed to, for example, her best friends from growing up. Alexis said, “She’s starfucking, are these people actually her friends? She clearly knows she’s way out of her depth.” She then asked me if this is an appointed or elected position, and I said as the Prime Minister in a Parliamentary system she is elected to one small district as a Member of Parliament and then elected by Parliament as the Prime Minister. While I, in general, think its lame for leading politicians to be enamored with celebrities, if you compare this to, for example, the Obamas being enamored with Jay Z and Beyonce the huge difference is that Obama had to do enormous amounts of fundraising and get a huge amount of votes. Celebrities like that are actually genuinely useful in that regard. Whereas in Marin’s case she has leveraged her status as Prime Minister into running around with a lot of minor internet celebrities like a rising pop star or something. [It needs to be noted that Jay Z and Beyonce are probably more famous in Finland than any of these people.]
My next question was the one I am the most interested in, which is what she thinks this shows about her sincerity regarding the Russian threat and her desire to join NATO. Alexis responded:
“She obviously doesn’t believe in the threat with Russia unless she self-medicates with alcohol in which case you would still do that home. Maybe she just really trusts her main intern to handle the 3 AM calls. Why would she even want to get Finland into NATO, that seems like an awful lot of work and she seems quite busy. It does beg the question who is releasing these and what is their strategy/motive. I, for one, often forget Finland exists and I assume Putin is the same way.”
The last part is surely not true, but as I’ve documented especially about Estonia, as well as the entire situation with Ukraine that started this mess, these countries are needlessly antagonizing Russia when peace has always been an option. They are only creating problems for themselves. I can see how in 2019 when Finland was a small, peaceful, neutral, well-governed country proud of its progressive outlook and gender egalitarianism, electing a cabinet where four major ministers were women under 35 seemed like a good idea. I can tell you though, as a 34 year old myself you don’t want people my age running your country, though some should be involved. However, to many being led by young, casual, socially relaxed women untroubled by the prejudices of prior years sounded appealing. But once the Post-World War 2 order ended with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world changed entirely. It became the case that the Finns needed a much more serious, experienced, and responsible leader capable of at least trying to shepherd them away from being caught in the middle of a catastrophic conflict between superpowers- the same policy Finland followed with great success throughout the entire Cold War, and a path which required little more than “staying the course.”
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