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Outspoken Helmut Schmidt

Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt is the only elder statesmen who constantly smokes cigarettes on TV and sometimes uses the term "shit" as a description. He gets away with it because of his huge popularity. His outspoken manner and lack of concern for political correctness also reinforces his popularity, especially at a time, when Germany is governed by uncharismatic politicians, who lack vision and do not even make much of an effort explaining their policies (link in German).

Schmidt has used the term "shit" repeatedly when talking about the World War II. Last week, however, he used the term (for the first time?) to describe the financial crisis.

He wrote in an article for Die Zeit, the leading center-left weekly read by intellectuals and the proponents high culture:

Investment banker is nothing more than a synonym for the type of financial manager who dragged all of us - practically the entire world - into the shit and now is in the process of repeating exactly what he was doing up to 2007.

Dialog International translated parts of Schmidt's article as part of its commentary on Deutsche Bank, "America's foreclosure king, the slumlord of Los Angeles and the the bank that ruined Milwaukee."

I can't imagine that the financial crisis will lead us into a catastrophe of the magnitude of the second world war. Thus I think it is not warranted to use the term "shit". How bad do things have to get until a US broadsheet will print this word in an editorial or an American TV show to broadcast it without beeping?

Besides, Schmidt is wrong to put the blame on the investment bankers and financial managers. Responsible for this "shit" are the politicians and civil servants, who have failed in regulating the financial markets and instead created huge vulnerabilities with their deficit spending for many decades. It is a perversion of capitalism that banks are now too big too fail.

ENDNOTE: It seems that many people want the other Helmut to be outspoken as well. Ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl is said to have criticized Angela Merkel with the words "She's destroying my Europe," but he has since declared that this quote is "totally fabricated."

Question: Which US elder statesmen is most outspoken and/or most popular these days?


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