a. I find I know entirely too little about even Balkenende to accurately judge how far they are untrustworthy individuals by themselves or forced into a particular course by (inter)national forces and situations pertaining the country or beliefsystem they represent.
You are taking this far too existentially Naj
I think that, when it comes to political professionals, there is obviously an extent calculated in for every one that they have to make compromises with the truth, or even voluntarily do so - it comes with the territory (with the possible exception of Vaclav "Living in Truth" Havel).
The assessment we face, in the end, is how far we think they will stray from the truth, or how far they will go in f*cking us over (which are two distinct things, I'll readily admit). Why
they do so - because they are dishonest and unscrupulous of character, or because they are forced into it by those who they depend on, are pressured by, by the situation as they see it, etc - is arguably irrelevant for the political consumer... A consideration I'd suggest simply skipping for this little survey, anyway ;-).
Personally, for example, I'm quite confident that Tony Blair is, of himself, an honest enough man - that his stubborn belief in the Rightness of his Path, at least, is (unpleasantly) sincere. But the path that he has chosen, with the necessities of, inter alia, following Bush in everything and strongarming any opposition within his party (at least until he was no longer able to), has come with much spin, secrecy, intimidation and untrustworthiness. Ergo, regardless of his personal soul, in his political role, I cant much trust him.
I will admit there's another problem with the phrasing of my question. Where to put a politician whom you consider to be both speaking and acting truthfully and scrupulously, but whose political views veer sharply away from yours? He will
end up "f*cking you over" - say, by limiting your abortion rights, or your right to gay marriage or civil union - but he might be very straightforward and honest about it. Can you trust him to tell the truth? Yes. Can you trust him to do right - or at least not to f*ck you over too much? No. Compare a politician like that with one who is personally a sleazeball but whose political convictions are such that you can trust him with keeping your interests and freedoms safe, and the ranking gets tough.
Then again, any such ranking is just going to be rather instinctual, an expression of general preference (that may be slightly different again the next day) - it wasnt meant anything quite as serious as ^^^ ;-)
c. Several of these people are, in extension to point a., almost completely unknown to me.
Thaz OK, just skip em!
Still, I'd put Bush quite low on the list, and Berlusconi and Putin not much higher. Given the premise, I'd put Al-sistani high on the list. Chirac somewhere in the middle, Merkel more to the top. Gadaffi would rank low.
Blair I'd put in the bottom half of the top ten. The others I know not at all or am not sure how to place.
So for now it would be this?
5 Berlusconi, Putin