May 2, 2007


The Road to America: Germans accustomed to Angela Merkel's domestic track record are hard-pressed to recognize the chancellor as she re-orients German foreign policy and takes it back toward its rightful place: at America's side. Thank goodness! (Gabor Steingart, 5/02/07, Der Spiegel)

When it comes to this traditional division of labor between politicians and the media -- the task of the former being to govern and that of the latter to criticize -- there is one human ability that gets the short end of the stick: the capacity to register astonishment. The world of politics is by no means the world of reason it is so often portrayed as. On the contrary, it is literally a cosmos of irrationalities, chance occurrences and excessive demands placed on individuals, the latter being at least partly the result of leaders not being given enough time to learn their trades. Drivers typically receive their licenses after spending hours in the student driver seat. But chancellors aren't as lucky. They're already in office by the time they take their first spins around the block. Which brings us to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

She has given us our fill of astonishing moments by displaying an unexpected flair for foreign policy. When she took office, Merkel set out to reform the country from within. But now she is suddenly rolling up her sleeves and wading into the thick of things worldwide, revealing herself as an instinctive politician who is clearly making up for her lack of experience with talent. Of course, her true caliber on the world stage isn't evident yet, but it is already clear that she has an uncanny ability to get things right the first time, an ability achieved much later in their terms by some chancellors and never by others. [...]

The astonishment over Angela Merkel is all the more immense when one considers that she has not only managed to tromp across the world's red carpets without mishaps, but, in the short time of her chancellorship, she has also taken the country back to where it belongs -- at America's side.

At our back, more than our side, but at least they aren't stabbing us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 2, 2007 11:07 AM

She lived under the commies, that's her experience.

Posted by: Sandy P at May 2, 2007 4:36 PM

After Schroeder, anything would have been an improvement.

Merkel is a physicist, not a philosopher. She will surprise the lethargic Germans most of all.

Posted by: ratbert at May 3, 2007 7:36 AM