Schröder leaves ugly, stays true to form

Gerhard Schröder is finally gone for good, and stayed true to form in his farewell:

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who has led Germany since 1998, said for the first time on Wednesday he would not play a role in the next government, in an emotional farewell including broadsides at the United States and Britain.

I will not be a part of the next government — definitely not be part of it,” a tearful looking Schroeder told a rapt audience of union members in his home city of Hanover.

He quickly composed himself, hitting his stride in a passionate defense of a strong German state and lashing out at “Anglo-Saxon” economic policies favoured in Britain and the United States, which he said had “no chance” in Europe.

In an apparent reference to Hurricane Katrina, Schroeder castigated Washington for liberal, hands-off policies that left it exposed in times of crisis…

“I do not want to name any catastrophes where you can see what happens if organised state action is absent. I could name countries, but the position I still hold forbids it, but everyone knows I mean America,” he said to loud applause.

It took him some weeks, but he finally has realized that getting fewer votes than another party means that you have effectively lost the elections. I already had posted about his strange behavior on election night here. It is worth to look at in more detail, for it is, according to people who have know him intimately, not quite so strange for him after all, and indeed symptomatic for his whole personality:

Belligerent Schroeder in TV talk show draws fire

BERLIN – A belligerent performance by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in a TV talk show after German elections, which his party narrowly lost, has drawn widespread criticism and fuelled alarm the country could be lurching into a political crisis.

A grinning Schroeder first accused the TV moderators of having “an intellectual problem” and not being objective in their reporting and questioning.
Turning to a grim-looking Merkel he said: “Do you seriously think my party will accept this offer for talks with Frau Merkel? … Under her leadership she will never get a coalition with my party.”

Most newspapers said Schroeder had “run riot” during the half-hour TV show dubbed “the elephant round”. The Berliner Zeitung, which generally backs the Chancellor, called it “a bizarre appearance”.

Arnulf Baring, a leading German political historian, termed the Chancellor’s performance “shocking”.

“He spoke on election night as if he was on the verge of carrying out a putsch,” said Baring in a B.Z. newspaper interview, adding: “The way he is treating democracy and majority rule is truly threatening.”

The paper [The Berliner Kurier RG] quoted members of Schroeder’s own SPD following the interview on giant TV screens at party headquarters in Berlin saying: “He’s drunk.”

But the paper insisted this was not the case. “No, the Chancellor was not drunk – he was intoxicated with victory.”

And there’s also this from Der Spiegel:

Although many see his rude behavior on television as a slip-up, the reality is that it showed a side of Schröder with which journalists, but not the public, are all too familiar. He behaves the lout, the hooligan more often than one might think. Indeed, he is only too quick to dispense insults. During the SPD convention in Bochum in 2003, for example, his way of dealing with obstinate fellow party members was to hiss: “I’ll destroy you.”

In the seven years of the Schröder/Fischer era, the language and rules of the street often prevailed behind the facades of power. What was important to them was what Spaniards call cojones, those body parts that play such an important role in determining a man’s virility. Only those equipped with the bigger cojones are taken seriously, are allowed to have a say, can avoid being ridiculed. And, conversely, someone who is audacious enough to challenge reality is of course the most virile of them all. Schröder also has his own saying: “Only the toughest can play the game.”

It turns out that Schröder, who can dish it out like a prize fighter, has a chin made of glass.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

11 thoughts on “Schröder leaves ugly, stays true to form”

  1. “I do not want to name any catastrophes where you can see what happens if organised state action is absent. I could name countries, but the position I still hold forbids it, but everyone knows I mean America,”

    Darn, and here I thought he was referring to the European heat wave of 2003.

  2. John,

    there is no comparison between Katrina and the heatwave. Those who dies during the heatwave did so because they had no air conditioning.

    I adressed the issue here

    That is a completely different issue compared to a Hurricane. Schröder is a creep to blame Americans for Katrina, but the comparison you cited is also wrong, and pretty nasty.

    You can see that lack of airconditioning is the decisive factor because in Chicago over 700 people died in a single week in 1995, because they, too had no air conditioning during a heatwave.

    I’m forced to make a comparison to an American case, for the European heatwave was unprecedented.

    I also have to say that I’d like to, and please don’t take that personally, find the first guy to make the comparison between Katrina and our heatwave, and kick him in the nuts.

    PS: I have a pretty good idea who that person was, and I think I’ll send him a angry email.

  3. Ralf – Mayors, governors, county government people all tend to go around the same circles and they have their own trade publications. The problems of pothole repair are universal, after all. The problem of a northern city that has a snap, unprecedented, killing heatwave should certainly have crossed the minds of northern europe after the carnage in Chicago.

    The Dissident Frogman lost an uncle to the heatwave. His story points a very direct finger at government action, in his case that you couldn’t open the hospital windows where his uncle was staying. But that’s certainly not the only problem. The cost of energy is high all over the EU. The people must be punished for consumption. This depresses air conditioning installations because they’re such a bear to pay for year in and year out.

    The caring government wants us all to be thrifty but they impose thriftiness in an unnatural way. The consequences are unpredictable but only in what way they will be negative, in what way people will not have the safety margin needed to survive. In this case, 7k germans died because the FRG government turned the phrase cheap air conditioning into an oxymoron.

  4. TM Lutas,

    I agree on the high energy costs, but the demand for air conditioning was very low even before the special energy taxes. Also, Europe and America are diffeent cases – American mountains run North to South, European ones West to East. That means that Europe is much less likely, by orders of magnitude, to get sudden cold or hot winds from North or south than America does. The heatwave was a freak event, historically speaking, so nody expected it.

    Btw, Chicago isn’t really a Northern city by Northern European standards. Stuttgart in Southern Germany is roughly on the same parallel as the border between Cnada and the United States.

  5. Btw, Chicago isn’t really a Northern city by Northern European standards. Stuttgart in Southern Germany is roughly on the same parallel as the border between Cnada and the United States.

    Latitude comparisons are problematic because the Gulf Stream blows warm air from the Caribbean across the face of Europe in a way that trade winds fail to blow across the face of America.

    Here is a temperature chart for Chicago

    Here is a temperature chart for Stuttgart.

    In comparison with Chicago, Stuttgart is more prone to warm weather. In comparison to Stuttgart, Chicago is a canary in a coal mine.

  6. Ralf, many parts of the US are subject to extremes of climate that would shock many Europeans. Even in Massachusetts, where the ocean moderates the weather, I have seen a 40 degree F drop in temperature over a 12 hour span. Also, even though we are far from Tornado Alley, I’ve seen two of them (US has 90% of all tornadoes worldwide). I can’t plant anything in the garden that cannot withstand -20 F, and we hit 95 F every summer for a week at a time, catch a bit of cool weather, and go right back up. We get a foot or more of snow from a single storm, usually two or three times a year, plus lighter snowfalls. And how about ice storms, where the rain freezes against cold surfaces and coats them in ice? The weight usually breaks trees and the electricity goes out.

    We have air conditioning and central heating because large parts of the country as uninhabitable without them. It’s not virtuous behavior, folks, its just adaptation to necessity.

  7. Thanks, Mitch. That’s waht I was getting at with my comment about the mountains, ours don’t let hot and cold air into the moderate zones, except for literal freaks of nature like the heatwave 2003.

    I could do with air conditioning sometimes, but usually there is no pressing need for it.

    Tex, TM Lutas, nobody would have thought that Chicago’s could be a harbinger for Europe. There are many more likely dangers, like flooding or cold snaps. You can’t guard against everything.

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