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Germans Learned Nothing from Obama

The US presidential election campaigns generated a lot of interest in Germany. I was amazed how Obama managed to mobilize so many Americans to campaign for him. I thought Americans had become political cynics, who would not believe in hope and vision. Yet, Obama achieved this.

Less than a year later, Germans have very little interest in the current election campaigns, which are very lame compared to the US campaigns. Voter apathy is high. We need an Obama type movement here to revitalize politics.

Quite a few German friends, who might envy the US, have shared this NY Times article about the situation in Germany on Facebook and via Email.

The German public followed the 2008 United States presidential election with surprising ardor, starting even before the Iowa caucuses. Yet, with less than six weeks to go before the parliamentary election that will decide if Angela Merkel remains as chancellor, the campaign is arousing surprisingly little passion or curiosity among voters.

At a time of economic and financial upheaval, with unemployment expected to climb rapidly through the rest of the year and as the most fragile of recoveries in the export-oriented German economy remains threatened by the vicissitudes of the unstable global economy, political commentators have been at a loss to explain why.

The voter apathy is well documented. The polling company Forsa said that 84 percent of the more than 1,000 people they surveyed recently found the election boring. Of those, 38 percent said the campaign was "absolutely not interesting and exciting," versus 46 percent who found it somewhat uninteresting and unexciting. Only 1 percent found it "very interesting and exciting." What interest there has been has tended toward the silly-season variety. Indeed, the candidate generating the most excitement at the moment is Horst Schlämmer.

In addition to this comedian, it was also a politician from the conservative Christian Democrats who caused some excitement in the United States. Vera Lengsfeld used her and Merkel's boobs to campaign. Time Magazine writes about her: Busting Out: German Pol Plays the Cleavage Card and The Colbert Report (HT: Ben P.) has this video segment:

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag- German Campaign, Russian Dogs & Flying Rabbis
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Protests

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Don S on :

"It ain't no mystery, if it's politics or history The thing you got to know is, everything is show biz" Face it, Angela Merkel is the most boring politician this side of the Nordics. Big in the Bumdestag but little else. Germany needs a Silvio Berlusconi. Failing that, how about bring back this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herta_D%C3%A4ubler-Gmelin A little short in the chest area perhaps, but perhaps she could compare Putin to Kaiser Wilhelm or Barack Obama to Brer Rabbit or something? It didn't help when SPD failed to nominate this man: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_Steinbr%C3%BCck for Chancellor. He could scale things up and promise to invade the Grand Caymans. How about Poland? Iceland? Anywhere but Afghanistan. There was a time when Germany produced a colorful politician. Well - actually Austria produced a colorful politician who made his name in points north and west. Also reputed to chew rugs as a hobby. It's a little too soon to propose a german politician sport facial hair (except for Angie maybe). And a bit over the lip is at least a generation away, But how about some nice sideburns? Chin whiskers?

Joerg Wolf on :

@ Don, "He could scale things up and promise to invade the Grand Caymans." Switzerland and Lichtenstein are much closer to home. Let's start there. That will be as much fun as the US had in Central America. Panama and such.

Don S on :

Joerg, He's already threatened Switzerland. The only way he could top that would be to actually invade. Do you really think the Bundeswehr is up to a mountain campaign. Or are we looking at a 'Mouse that Roared' scenario here? The Willhelm Tell Overture rides again?

Zyme on :

You can measure the liveliness of a political system by the size of the audience paying attention to their leaders. But you can also measure it by looking at the speakers themselves: Little can tell you more on the state of this "parliamentary democracy" than the German version of filibuster. When the holiday season gets close, there usually still is a lot of legislative work to be done - and little time to do it. So our beloved members of parliament had to make their minds up, and ceative they were. They stuffed the remaining days until far into the nights with speeches on bills in parliament, governing and opposing parties alltogether. But of course one cannot expect them to remain at work this long. Here comes the creative part. So they agreed on a method which has to be considered a mockery on the word "parliament": Their speeches are delivered in advance, the president of the parliament then announces the debate topics at the right time and then registers all the speeches that are to be added to the protocol. The handsome part is, that none of the speakers has to be present this way. But the best part is that out of an understandable desire to legislate this joke, this procedure has been affirmed by a so called "speech-to-protocol law" this year. Need I mention how lucky we are that all the speeches "held" on this particular law were added to the protocol as well? The consequence is, as was written in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung on July 3rd, that just in the night of July 2nd the parliament "has dealt with" 43 items of the agend in a mere 35 minutes, which makes 52 seconds in average on each. So fond of it our members of parliament are that more and more readings on bills are reported to be handled this way. Our state is in no political crisis. But should it be in one one day, who is going to support these members of "parliament"? And why?

Don S on :

That is pretty creative, Zyme. ;) Our congresscritters have a couple of similar dodges. They can read a speech "into the record" without actually delivering it. They can also reserve the right to 'revies and extend' their remarks, which allows them to edit what they actually said afterward, at least until publication. But the one I loved best was about 20 years ago, when CSPAN started broadcasting. That network covered speeches on the House and Senat floor, so ambitioous pols would deliver fiery orations to the TV camersa - to an empty chamber. For the folks back home & nobody else. Then Speaker put an end to that (this was a GOP dodge mostly) by ordering the cameras to periodically pan out over the chamber, showing the empty seats. Spoilsport.

Zyme on :

"Our congresscritters have a couple of similar dodges." Do you think that is ok?

Pat Patterson on :

It wasn't and as a result in 2002 the rules for publication in the Congressional Record were tightened substantially. Members can insert extended remarks but must do so on the day they spoke but there is no guarantee that the remarks will be inserted and backdated until much later. The only complete power congressmen have is to change the record is transcription errors such as spelling, improper grammar, wrong name, etc but only then if the Public Printer agrees that these changes are valid and that the corrections are submitted that day. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/crecord/laws-rules.pdf Most of the time these corrections are harmless and done at the behest of a constituent as I know of one case, me, where the congressman added remarks congratulating his constituent for not causing an international incident while visiting the Soviet Union in 1984. Or words to that effect. Don S is right in that the congress will go out of its way to be more efficient, by simply claiming to speak but not actually speaking, but the accuracy of the CR has greatly improved and debates printed can be trusted as primary sources. I'm not really concerned about the lack of hoopla before an election because I have always thought that it indicates not ennui but a general satisfaction in the country and confidence that the problems that exist are not insoluble and that the politicans may actually be capable of solving them. Looking back over US history whenever there are clamorous campaigns the cause is usually because of economic difficulties, war or some other problem where the public, for the most part, throws out the incumbent party or leader and places its trust in the other party. Hoover's election in 1928 saw a big jump in the number of votes cast and that appears a fear the Smith would wreck the good times. All the others have been as I pointed out earlier in times of national stress.

Marie Claude on :

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/inglourious-basterds-a-german-fantasy-not-a-jewish-one/#comments hmm Germany's intention is really "mad" interpreted there get there to make your point

John in Michigan, US on :

Well we've gone way, way off-topic with the WW II history lessons...but since we're already off-topic...I wanted to mention that a blog is re-posting George Orwell's daily diary entries, one day at a time, from exactly 70 years ago. The entry for 1.9.39 begins: "Invasion of Poland began this morning. Warsaw bombed. General mobilization proclaimed in England, ditto in France plus martial law. [Radio] Foreign & General 1. Hitler’s terms to Poland boil down to return of Danzig & plebiscite in the corridor, to be held 1 year hence & based on 1918 census. There is some hanky panky about time the terms were presented..." The next couple of days and weeks should be very interesting. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this blog. [url=http://orwelldiaries.wordpress.com/]http://orwelldiaries.wordpress.com/[/url] (Hat tip: [url=http://www.reason.com/blog/show/135790.html]Reason Magazine's Hit & Run blog[/url].)

Marie Claude on :

interesting, John do you have a site where I could follow you ?

John in Michigan, US on :

Do I have my own blog? No, I still don't have that...one of these days, I will...

Zyme on :

All this remembering.. the frustrating part of all this is that it will only stop when the next big war happened.

Pat Patterson on :

Thanks for the link John. That brings an immediacy to the coming war that the average history text can never fully illuminate. Plus being from one of my favorite writers certainly doesn't hurt!

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