Man Without Qualities

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Might Even The Germans Catch On?

The American media have made a good deal over certain aspects of the recent Franco-German opposition to United States Iraq policy. The liberal media have, of course, played up the "alienating allies" aspect of the story. And William Safire has suggested that French President Chirac acceded to German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's obstructionism in exchange for their joint dominance of Europe.

But the media were full of reports only days ago of how eager the Chancellor was to repair the breach he opened with the United States in the last German election. Why has the Chancellor reactivated his opposition - which was not much more than an election season ploy in the first place?

Well, it's an election season ploy this time, too - there are two important regional elections next month in Germany and the German "leader" is trying to use opposition to war against Iraq to boost his very weak support. In short, Herr Schröder has no choice. He is structurally paralyzed from actually addressing any of Germany's increasingly dire problems andhe lacks the imagination (political genius) to find any creative solution. To understand the limits on his political imagination, recall that the Chancellor can't think of any way to address media commentary on his hair, marriage and nude body except protracted litigation. Given his obvious political and personal limitations, he must resort to ill-conceived demagoguery. But, oddly enough, it isn't working this time.

The Financial Times reports:

[The Chancellor's] ploy, which worked so well in the German elections last September, has failed to impress a public growing impatient for structural changes to revive the economy. A new opinion poll showed backing for the chancellor's SPD had fallen to 25 per cent - the lowest figure in the 26 years the poll has been conducted. By contrast the survey for ZDF television showed support for the opposition Christian Democrats and its Bavarian sister party the CSU stood at 56 per cent, while the environmentalist Greens scored 10 per cent.

There's more.

Can it be that the German electorate, having already thoroughly explored the question of just how stupid they are entitled to be in electing their governments, are becoming even dimly aware of what they should have done and be doing?

Seems like a lot to hope for.

In any event, it's too late. The Chancellor's party is the biggest problem with the Greens an aggravating circumstance. If the Chancellor actually proposes something that addresses Germany's real needs, then his own party will revolt. He knows that - and that's why he won't propose anything meaningful. German voters returned control of the lower house of parliament to the Chancellor's party last year - so that control is not going to change anytime soon. And it's unlikely that this Chancellor will soon sprout any new sprigs of political imagination.

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