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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Very Harsh Words from Germany for Obama (Berlin Report #6))


The Spiegel is Germany’s most widely read political magazine. Like other German print media, it gushed with enthusiasm for Obama, but no more. The Spiegel’s adulation has turned to a scorn that approaches rage.

Heinrich von Kleist’s play “The Broken Mug” introduced Village Judge Adam as one of the classic  comedy figures of world literature.  One of Judge Adam’s many tricks was to sentence others for the same crimes that he committed. At the end of the play, Judge Adam  flees before angry villagers can capture him.

The Spiegel does not restrain its scorn: “ Barack Obama is a modern variant of  Kleist’s village  judge. In ever growing volume, he condemns the Europeans, complaining their restrained fiscal policies are making the crisis worse. But the European public understands that the miseries about which Obama complains originated no where else but in the Obama-run USA.”

The Spiegel particularly does not appreciate Obama’s preaching of “Turbo-Keynesianism.” Instead of focusing on long-term growth policies, Obama’s use of Keynesian stimulus has not brought the U.S. on course but on a “crash course.” And now Obama advises Europe to adopt his failed policies of easy credit and fiscal stimulus. “Like a doctor caught doping, Obama does not want to put aside his steroids but to administer them to all athletes.”

The Spiegel ends with this advice: Obama should recall his proposals. Otherwise, he could end up like the village judge of Kleist’s comedy. “As his swindles are discovered, he must flee and his days in office will end.” On other words, Obama should butt out and come back with his advice when he has some successes to boast about.

I find the bitter tone of the Spiegel article reminiscent of a nasty divorce of a couple that was once deeply in love.  Such animosity can only be explained by the deep disappointment of an estranged lover.

Michael Sauga, “Der Dorfrichter von Washington: Kommentar,” Der Spiegel, October 1, 2011.

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