German lessons: Angela Merkel and her press corps show how big democracies are supposed to operate

TO APPRECIATE how shocking President Donald Trump is to modern German sensibilities, consider the “America First!” slogan that so cheers his supporters. Then ponder how Germans—and indeed voters across Europe—would react if an avowed law-and-order nationalist were to seek the office of Bundeskanzler with the slogan: “Germany First!”

At an often awkward press conference in the East Room, the two leaders politely disagreed on everything from immigration to free trade and the value of seeking multinational agreements. …Mrs Merkel was every  inch the cool, reserved physicist-by-training, at moments giving her American host the icy stare of a Mother Superior told a dirty joke. Mr Trump was dyspeptic, defensive and visibly irritated by press questions about his latest controversial tweets.  

…Her core message to Mr Trump was that real political leadership involves seeking a co-operative solution that leaves everyone ahead, and that international relations do not have to be zero-sum.

(Like Trump has the comprehension skills for that concept)

…[Trump] has appalled the German government with his open admiration for the iron-fisted nationalism of Mr Putin, his hints that he might lift sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and his suggestions that NATO is obsolete.

…At their press conference Mrs Merkel managed to persuade Mr Trump to state his “strong support” for NATO. She also heard the American leader praise Germany’s schemes for job training and retraining, and apprenticeships in industry.

… Turning to his guest, he said: “At least we have something in common, perhaps.” The look that the chancellor shot back blended incredulity with horror. For Washington-based observers, increasingly used to the idea of an American president who makes baseless claims and attacks other leaders without shame, her dismay was a useful reminder. This is not normal.

German lessons: Angela Merkel and her press corps show how big democracies are supposed to operate | The Economist

Normal? No, it is not. So next time, vote for the clearly lesser of the two major party evils, snake oil buyers and liberal-ship-sinkers.


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