July 12, 2006


Bush spends days with his new German ally, Angela Merkel (William Douglas, 7/11/06, McClatchy Newspapers)

The huge headline in Wednesday's edition of the German national newspaper Bild blared the question that inquiring minds in Germany wanted to know: "What Does Bush Find So Fascinating About His Girlfriend Angela?"

President Bush, who arrived Wednesday evening in this Baltic Sea coastal region of what once was communist East Germany, has formed a fast friendship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that has made them the new odd couple of international politics. [...]

"There's a personal chemistry that works for them," said Helga Welsh, an associate political science professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in U.S.-Europe relations. "Merkel can bring up unpopular topics like Guantanamo Bay and not get mad."

While other European leaders, such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac, are in the twilight of their political careers, Merkel is on the rise. She has forged a leading role in Europe's efforts to prevent Iran from resuming its nuclear program. Next year, she will head the G-8 - composed of leaders of eight major industrialized democracies - while holding the rotating European Union presidency for six months.

Merkel has been in office only eight months, but she's becoming the White House's go-to ally in Europe, experts in transatlantic relations say. She's already made the frosty relationship that Bush had with former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder a distant memory.

The President has outlasted most of his enemies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 12, 2006 4:02 PM
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