Even on his better days, the deposed head of the Nissan-Renault alliance has always reminded me of an ill-humored version of the British sitcom character Mr. Bean. That’s because Carlos Ghosn’s eyebrows live in a state of constant arch-regard for himself (and nobody else). What have been Ghosn’s better days? I imagine he might point, for instance, to holding a Marie Antoinette-style party at Versailles for his second wife’s 50th birthday party. Talk about royal privilege, the kind of excesses that landed Ghosn in trouble in with American regulators, French officials, and finally the authorities in Japan.
All of which brings us to one of Ghosn’s worst days: his first, (two-hour-plus) press conference since skipping bail in Japan by flying to his native Lebanon on the lam. New billboards put up by Ghosn’s supporters in Beirut proclaim: “We are all Carlos Ghosn.” Let’s pray otherwise.
What happened this past Wednesday? Lashing out at former colleagues and Japanese prosecutors alike, Ghosn went on a wild, sweat-induced tirade peppered by occasional swearing. The crime of his being portrayed as a “cold, greedy dictator” incenses Ghosn. The optics at Versailles were cringe-worthy. On Wednesday, they weren’t any better – as the lighting ensured that Ghosn’s shadow was, at times, literally bigger than the man himself (indeed, nearly as big as his ego). In retrospect, it’s kind of amazing that Ghosn’s accomplices could find a box large enough to spirit him out of Toyko.