Thursday, November 5, 2009

How Germany sees Merkel's speech in Congress

On Tuesday night, a commentator on the nightly news here in Germany started off with the comment that Angela Merkel gave a speech in the US that she had never given in the Bundestag -- one tailored specifically to Americans. That seems to be the general tenor here: Americans like to hear the personal stuff, not just substance. Die Zeit comments:

The speech was not grand, but major. She told the Americans what they like to hear: she talked about herself and her life behind barbed wire. About her desire for blue jeans and freedom -- and the big, unbelievable moment when the Wall fell and she was allowed to enter the West to live her own "American dream."

Die Welt ran an article entitled "Merkel's Speech Pleases America and Helps Germany" (Merkels Rede gefällt Amerika und hilft Deutschland), which perhaps sums up the reaction the best: the German press seems to believe that Merkel served Germany best by just telling Americans what they want to hear anyway.

The comments under these articles are a bit different, however. Commenters seem to feel that Merkel was kotowing a bit excessively. Not everyone seems convinced, as Merkel claimed, that America wants the best for Germany. At Die Zeit, one person even pointed out that, while the United States did indeed encourage France and Britain to let the two Germanies unite, it was these powers who caused the split in the first place in the late 1940s (prompting another commenter to ask, What would you have done?).

Incidentally, the German press also produced a review of how the world press received the new German Foreign Secretary. They found that Americans in particular like to point out that he is openly gay.

It is indeed noteworthy that a gay man and a woman in pants now represent the country, as this excellent article in German about the history of women's rights and gay rights in Germany points out.

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