Nice to see the center-left media in the United States finally start to acknowledge the most brutally apparent examples of flagrant anti-Americanism in European media. We've been documenting it for years. Better late than never perhaps.
Being President isn't easy. Dropping approval ratings at home - and now this from SPIEGEL? The afterglow from the 2008 Berlin speech has clearly faded with the German media elite...Et tu Brutus?
Here's what's interesting about this article: The small headline below the article summary reads "The German Prism: Berlin Wants to Spy Too." If America's activities constitute spying - than the German government not only "wants to spy" - it has been "spying" for decades now. In many instances, Germany and other European governments have acted more aggressively than the United States.
Even Augstein tacitly acknowledges that his criticism of the United States could equally be a criticism of European governments. This is the pot calling the kettle black while simultaneously criticizing it. Put another way, Augstein's commentary is both inconsistent and incoherent.
It boils down to this: Every society must grapple with the eternal conflict between privacy and security - and in many cases - European countries come down more heavily on the side of security. America - after all - does not have a national ID card or Anmeldungspflicht.
But Augstein's work has little to do with some noble crusade to protect the privacy of European citizens. Instead, he is doing what SPIEGEL has always done: Scratching for some pretext to attack the "imperialist other" - the American boogeyman - while attempting to stoke Transatlantic conflict. This was and remains a time-tested formula for moving copy and cashing in with SPIEGEL readers.
Celebrating Obama has outlived its usefullness. Anti-Americanism has a much longer shelf-life...
Spiegel's crack Amerika-Korrespondent Marc Pitzke strikes again! Apparently - SPIEGEL Online has gotten an extra early scoop on the death of GHW Bush!
Or perhaps its a bit of wishful thinking on the part of Marc Pitzke - who has already prepared a masterpiece of false praise, which is, in fact, a poorly disguised litany of attacks against the elder Bush's son George W.
Pitzke gets the usual low blows in: The mandatory griping about endless war, torture and how terrible a place America has become since the first Bush governed in a more innocent time. Ah the good old days!
But most importantly - SPIEGEL gets it wrong - again. This isn't the first - but perhaps one of the most dramatic examples of the magazine's total bias and lack of professionalism. Pitzke's next story: Elvis still lives - in New York - in the studio next to mine!
2012 Election Day Update: Guess What Americans - Europe is still disappointed with you and Obama - particularly since you have no socialist equivalent to give you something comparable to our "balanced" political system! Why haven't you closed Gitmo? Why do you still insist on killing terrorists with drones? Why won't you bring back Kyoto and end global warming?
Here's the bottom line: If Obama wins - get ready for 4 more years of subdued moaning in German media about how disappointed we are that America has not yet become the paragon of social justice that we expected Obama to make it. Or - if Romney scores an upset (which we see as unlikely) - a really loud return to full-on, Bush-is-back, Hate-America-Mode. A Romney win is what all German journalists secretely hope for - as it will mark the return of the age of highly profitable and socially acceptable America-bashing that accompanies any Republican administration.
And oh - by the way - SPIEGEL reminds us yet again that America is still in "downfall" mode - a state which the country has apparently been in since the foundation of SPIEGEL magazine: "The American Patient: Of the Downfall of a Great Nation"
We hate to say we told you so - but we did. This was entirely predictable. According to SPIEGEL - Germans are increasingly "disillusioned" with President Obama:
In a new global survey released on Wednesday, approval of President Barack Obama's policies has declined significantly since he first took office. Overall confidence in Obama and attitudes towards the US have slipped modestly as a consequence. By several measures some of the greatest slippage has occurred in Germany, especially with regard to America's image and Obama's foreign policies. After more than three years in office, Germans are disappointed in the US president's unilateralism; his use of force, particularly drone strikes; his inaction with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian situation and his lack of effort in curbing climate change.
Analysis: The initial euphoria of an Obama victory and Republican defeat will lead some to predict a bold new era of happiness in transatlantic relations. These predictions will gradually be worn to a cool realism/cynicism by geopolitical realities which will inevitably manifest themselves through differences over trade, the use of force in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East, the unwillingness of even the Democrats to go along with Kyoto, etc. Obama may remain quite popular as a personality in the German media. The Republicans - despite their reduced role - will continue to act as foils and receive blame for all that goes wrong. The refrain that what Bush has broken will take time to fix may well grow to become a reflexive defense for some time to come among those who insist on clinging to their own initial euphoria.
But at least Obama is convincing Germans that he is making progress in transforming the American economy into a more socially-just copy of the German economy. According to the SPIEGEL piece:
"Germans also don't see America as an economic superpower. In 2008, only 30 percent of Germans named China as the world's leading economic player. Now 62 percent do, while only 13 percent say the U.S. plays that role. No other Europeans judge American economic prowess so harshly."
But it's really too bad that Germans still don't love America now that Bush is gone - we thought that his departure would end all anti-American feeling. All there is left to say is...
It contains no photos of Iraqi voters with ink-dipped fingers. No photos reminding us of Saddam's mass murder and destruction of his enemies. No reminders of the successful surge that Bush backed despite Reid saying the war was lost. No pictures of American troops and diplomats helping millions of Iraqis building roads, schools, power plants, providing medical care, jobs and stability. No pictures of the Sunni Awakening and the defeat of Al-Qaeda in Anbar province. In short - no pictures telling the whole story or providing any real balance.
Just pictures fitting the SPIEGEL ONLINE anti-American far-left narrative: The American military is evil. The war was all bad. The Iraqis only suffered at the hands of the terrible invaders.
With the Iraq war's apparent conclusion, one can only say of SPIEGEL ONLINE that - for a publication and readership that styles itself as so utterly nuanced and intelligent - the coverage has - in fact - been utterly one-sided and hyper-simplified propaganda - with very few exceptions. The magazine's coverage was designed to sell magazines to and please an anti-American audience from beginning to end, and the German readership will never have more than a very narrow and self-satisfying view of the conflict that in no way reflects reality.
Oh - and here's a shocker - the article and gallery are not featured on SPIEGEL ONLINE's English site homepage. Wonder why? Perhaps the English-speaking audience demands at least a fig-leaf of intellectual honesty - apparently the German audience does not...
"Polls clearly show that Europeans have turned against America in
increasing numbers. You can blame Iraq or George Bush. But it's also
true that Europeans have been fed a steady diet of media distortions
about America for years.
And if you repeat a distortion long enough, it can become reality.
If you got your news about the United States only from the European
media, chances are good you wouldn't like the United States either. There are a lot of reasons for the anti-American coverage in the media
here, but you can start with the journalists themselves. They're mostly
liberal and they're on a mission.
America gets a journalistic thumping just about every day in
Europe. It's a one-way media war that our government has shown little
or no interest in fighting seriously, even though it has severely
damaged America's image and influence."
Perhaps the most striking statement on German media was made by Andrei Markovits, who related that a German journalist openly admitted to him that the editors back home were pushing him to provide negative material - because it sells so well. That is something we have known for years - but his statement is just further evidence. Jeff Gedmin - who possesses his own category on this site - was stellar as always. (Hoya Saxa Jeff!) Karin Quade of the German blog anti-anti-Americanism pointed to the painful reality that it is difficult to avoid negative attitudes towards the US - even in everyday conversation. Richard Miniter, another accomplished blogger I have had the pleasure to meet, discusses his time with The Wall Street Journal in Brussels.
Special thanks to Dale Hurd. Just appearing on a program with interviewees of such high caliber was
a deep honor. I must, however, mention one
complaint about the presentation: In his preliminary comments, Pat
Robertson implied that "most" Europeans believed Americans walked
around with M16s. Very different from my observation that (some)
Germans asked me if all Americans walked around with M16s - (probably
after watching Bowling for Columbine.) The fact that anyone would ask
such a thing is more than enough to make a strong point - and there is
no evidence and no need to claim that "most" Europeans believe it.
Additionally, as someone who considers himself "secular" - I am a
skeptic of Mr. Robertson and the religious right in general. I am,
however, deeply grateful to CBN for taking on this subject in a highly
professional manner. It is also beyond argument that individuals of
faith in the United States have been unfairly vilified and targeted in
European media. To conclude, let's hope that the larger mainstream
media picks up on the subject of anti-Americanism in foreign media as
well. Considering the general political attitude of the American
mainstream media, however, (one of sympathy and empathy for the
America-bashers) it is relatively unlikely that this will happen.
For those interested in the BBC report featuring Davids Medienkritik: It is on the emergence of new media. I was interviewed about blogs last year. It is a good watch.
Endnote: Now to address my decision to use my full name. Although I initially used my full name on this
site for several months in 2003 and 2004, I have used my first name and last initial for quite a while now.
I did this primarily because, as a graduate student, I was looking into
work in the media field and I thought that my work as a blogger might work
against me - though I made
no secret of my blogging at my university or around those I know. Now
that I have my degree (a Masters from the Georgetown School of Foreign
Service) and a job (not in the media field) - and considering the fact
that I have twice appeared on major media in the past year - I see
little point in obscuring my full name.
Just wondering Spiegel and Stern - is it Vietnam yet? More evidence of demoralized American soldiers?
"No fewer than 70 Taliban died outside COP Margah on Nov. 8. At least, that’s the estimate the soldiers came up with after picking up body parts the following day — standard procedure following a major attack."
Guessing we won't see very much about this in the German media...since it doesn't fit the long-standing narrative of defeat and humiliation for the United States.
More proof that Iraq is a hopeless quagmire as the German media has been telling us for years now. And Bush's Middle East policy was such a disaster for the region that we now see revolutions toppling dictators everywhere and Al Qaeda being decimated. After all - if we can continue to blame Bush for the current economy - can we also blame him for the recent developments in the Middle East and in the fight against Al Qaeda?
Headline above: "US Drone War in Afghanistan: Photos Show the Real Victims of the Silent Killers"
"Remotely controlled drones are seen as the wonder weapon in the anti-terror fight. For years, Washington has used the high-tech weapons in west Pakistan, but the suffering of the civilians is mostly hidden. Now a photographer's pictures show the entire extent of the horror. By Hasnain Kasim, Islamabad."
As it reads - the headline seems to imply the following: The real victims (and therefore the real targets) of drone strikes are innocent civilians, not the violent jihadists hell-bent on murdering anyone who does not share their worldview.
If there is any doubt amongst our German journalist friends about the kind of people the US is targeting - watch them brutally murdering sixteen Pakistani policemen here. The good, morally-superior journalists at SPIEGEL ONLINE who go to bed peacefully each night protected by American troops should have no doubt that they and their loved ones would end the same way should those the US is really targeting have the chance to effect their agenda.
This latest lead article displays the same sort of muddled logic that allowed SPIEGEL ONLINE and other like-minded media to imply earlier that the inmates at Guantanamo (for the most part) were just innocent Afghani vegetable gardeners or foreign honor students (not determined Islamic Fascists out to create a global caliphate) who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In addition - this story is essentially taking the Pakistani photographer's word for it that his photos are all actual depictions of civilian casualties. That's not to say that there have not been civilian casualties - but how many civilians have been victimized because militants chose to use them as human shields or their villages as bases of operations? Do they not at least share in the responsibility for the consequences?
And what about the victims of the Islamic militants? Perhaps SPIEGEL ONLINE would be so balanced as to run a front page post on photos of those victims. Perhaps that would be a bit too messy and not properly directed at the world's true enemy - the United States...
Uhhh.oohhh...will they still protect him or go for the jugular - watch out Mr. President...
Question #2 for the German media "experts": Are the current freedom movements in the Middle East more proof that Bush ruined everything through his actions? By the way: Is Iraq still a Vietnam? Haven't seen that headline in a while. Wonder why...
Let's face it: Media tend to over-report the most vile and extreme aspects of our society. "If it bleeds - it leads" is much more than a cliche - it is a journalistic fact of life. The danger with the daily sensationalism is that it skews the viewer's perception of reality. In other words, a viewer is apt to believe that the world around him is a much more rotten than it actually is.
Interesting thought experiment: What if you were a foreign correspondent...?
Imagine you are an American correspondent in Germany. You are encouraged by your editors to report only the most extreme, outrageous, strange and dark sides of German society. Your publication chooses to ignore the 97% of issues that bring Germans and Americans together and instead focus on the 3% that most divide the two nations - such as attitudes towards prostitution, social welfare, guns, etc. This seedy sensationalism sells - and that is exactly what your editors are after. For that reason, they also strongly encourage you to write whatever you can on Neo-Nazi violence - not because the issue is genuinely troubling - (and it is) - but because it brings good ratings and reaffirms your readership's dark stereotypes of the Vaterland.
Beyond that - your editors oblige you to bring stories only on a narrow band of pet issues that they have predetermined are of "interest" to the readership. (In fact, you may have been specially selected for your job because you have an ideological propensity to dislike Germany and favor stories that make Germany look bad.) When you arrive in Berlin, you discover that Germany isn't quite the awful place you expected and - because you are a free spirit - the urge is great to report on the many complex aspects of German society. Predictably, however, your editors discourage any independent ideas that might shed a different (you might say balanced) light on things.
The pet issues and big politics are all they want. In particular, the editors want to demonstrate that Germany is a nation infatuated with pornography, cursed by extreme alcoholism and blighted by racist attitudes towards non-Germans. Every other week - if things are slow - the boss pressures you to bring a story on another hopeless unemployed wretch in East-Berlin desperate to get out of the country. He just won't publish your more "upbeat" stories or even critical stories that fall outside the narrow band of pet issues.
The editors supplement your work by sprinkling-in stories cut-and-pasted from news wires on Germans behaving badly worldwide. You eventually realize that intellectual honesty takes a distant backseat to the pet-issue template devised by your editors. Making Germans and Germany look bad at all costs - to reaffirm the stereotypes and political leanings of readers - is no longer something you can question without risking your job.
One week - your publication runs a cover depicting a giant spider drapped in a German flag and wearing lederhosen sucking the blood of a lifeless blue collar American trapped in its web. You realize that this crude reference to recent lay-offs of American automobile workers by a large German multinational is appalling and unfair. The cover sparks a slew of hateful and irrational letters-to-the-editor by readers. You want to speak out against what you now believe is hate-mongering for profit - but again - you fear for your job.
Not surprisingly, the most "self-critical" Germans - those with a particular talent for shamelessly bashing their own nation and people - are held up as heroic dissenters and showered with awards by your publication and others like it.
Finally - because quite a few other publications share the same general ideology of your own and follow the same pattern of reporting - it is not beyond the pale for your editors to proclaim that you represent the "mainstream" of American media and that you are largely fair and unbiased in reporting on Germany.
Turn the mirror around...
Now let us turn this script around. The above is a reflection of how certain influential segments of German media have operated for years now. The latest Amerika-Korrespondent for Stern magazine - Jan Christoph Wiechmann - offers an excellent example. One of his more recent articles is entitled: "Weapons Trade in the USA: An AR-15 with your Coffee?" The opening paragraph reads:
"In Europe one usually receives a cookie with their coffee. In the USA it is an assault rifle: In the Texan solitude, waitresses with highly teased hair offer the things for sale in weapon shops camouflaged as cafes. Normal daily life in Bush-Country."
The article paints a picture of daily life in the USA that is neither typical nor normal. Yet the author intentionally presents the extreme as the ordinary - not because it represents an accurate reflection of typical daily life in the United States - but because it is sure to sell and re-affirm the deeply-held stereotypes of "Stern" readers. Further, Wiechmann cleverly selects a subject - or perhaps his editors selected it for him - that has long been a favorite pet issue of left-leaning German media for years.
Another recent example is an article, entitled "US Tourist Collapses During Sex - Dead," that appeared in SPIEGEL ONLINE on an American who died after overdosing on a potency drug while engaging in sex tourism in Thailand. Certainly - had the tourist in question been Dutch, Brazilian, Russian or German - this article probably would not have made it onto the SPON website. Fellow blogger Joerg of Atlantic Review - who brought this article to my attention - hit the nail on the head:
"If it had been a German tourist, it might not have made news on Spiegel. Or maybe it would have been, if at least the pills were American."
Why is this piece newsworthy at all? The answer is simple: It offers SPIEGEL readers another choice opportunity to look down on Americans.
Looking at the larger picture...
The long-standing media patterns described above - when combined with the sort of ugly and exploitative political opportunism that marked the Schroeder re-election campaign of 2002 - serve to transform the fault lines that represent honest German-American differences of opinion (on questions such as Iraq, trade, the role of the state, etc.) into gaping chasms of misunderstanding and mutual abuse. This leads to the sort of self-reinforcing media-political feeding frenzy that we saw from 2002 to 2005, a period that produced some of the most ugly and irrational manifestations of anti-Americanism in the history of democratic Germany.
Fortunately, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have made it evident that it is possible to disagree with the United States without tapping into the overflowing keg of anti-American sentiment - fueled by the media tendencies outlined above - in their respective nations. As a result of the political changes at the very top, the level of media vitriol has ebbed over the past year or two. It is important to remember - however - that the group of people calling the shots in the German media in 2002 and 2003 are essentially still running the show today. Given the right political conditions and the media's tendency to follow larger political patterns, they would gladly return to the high-pitched anti-American hysteria that flooded German media only a few years ago.
Endnote: Allow us to offer that there is certainly some of what we describe above in American media as relates to Germany - though on a much smaller scale. It is true that some Americans still associate Germany primarily with Nazism, beer or lederhosen. If anything, however, the American media pays far too little attention to foreign issues - and it is the lack of attention to Germany and Europe that is far more troubling.
Germany and the United States, like all nations, have their unique histories, cultures, geographies, national values and priorities. Considering that, it is hardly a surprise that Germans and Americans do not always agree on all of the issues. It would be strange if they did. On the other hand, both countries share a great number of values and interests. We at Davids Medienkritik believe that the shared values and interests far outweigh the differences. That said, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging and discussing differences in a constructive manner. Such a dialog should be aimed at minimizing and bridging the gap between our two nations.
Unfortunately, that is not what is happening today.
A shrill yet influential segment of the German media has repeatedly sought to exploit and exacerbate transatlantic differences. This weblog is a watchdog site dedicated to the documentation of anti-Americanism in German media and the negative influence it has on Germans’ perceptions of the United States.
German media coverage of the United States is frequently marked by one-sidedness, ideology, stereotypes, clichés and factual errors. Consider the words of ZDF's Washington, DC Bureau Chief Eberhard Piltz, one of the most influential correspondents in the German media today:
"ZDF Bureau Chief and Correspondent Eberhard Piltz, felt that ideology was a major impediment to quality coverage of the United States. Piltz spoke of “prejudice” and described it as “an intellectual arrogance that thinks that the American way of life, feeling, taste and thinking is inferior and not authentic.” He complained that many journalists see “the U.S. through an ideological lens,” and that “most of them grew up with the leftist, socialist dream and now they look for scapegoats.”
Or, take a moment to view the following statement from Andrei S. Markovits, a leading scholar and author on European anti-Americanism:
It is important to keep in mind that the examples documented on this site do not reflect the entire German media landscape. There are numerous highly professional, relatively unbiased news sources to be had from Berlin to Bavaria. That said: The biased, anti-American media coverage that we document here does reflect a large and influential segment of German media. Most importantly: The type of reporting and coverage that we document on this site is having a significant and detrimental impact on German-American relations and transatlantic understanding.
Above: A selection of Der SPIEGEL covers on the United States: 1997 - 2006
Although David and I are both German citizens (I am a dual US-German citizen and David is a full German citizen), we are sometimes accused of being “anti-German” because we dare to document and criticize what is going on in German media, politics and society. Our critics seem to think that it would be better if we all just stuck our collective heads in the sand and pretended the hate mongering and America bashing simply didn’t exist. We strongly disagree. The only way to change what is happening in wide segments of the German media is to confront it head on and expose it for what it is. If that makes some people uncomfortable, so be it. The fact that we have drawn millions of readers to our site is a strong indicator that we have put our finger in a gaping wound and touched an important chord. We will continue to speak out openly, honestly and with a healthy dose of humor, opinion and biting sarcasm until this problem is confronted and addressed on a societal level. Until that day, we have no plans to stop doing what we are doing.
Above all, we thank our readers for supporting and guiding us.
CNN is characterizing former German Chancellor and Gazprom employee Gerhard Schroeder as an "ex-friend" of George W. Bush's. Under it's "Latest News" list, one headline reads "Ticker: Bush is lying, ex-friend says". For CNN to characterize Gerhard Schroeder as ever having been a friend of Bush's (in anything other than a purely diplomatic sense) is a stretch at best - and a disingenuous fabrication designed to attract reader's attention at its core.
One of the side-effects of Bush's re-emergence is that the German media is sure to revert to its reflexive diarrhea of hyper-simplified attacks on everything in the United States not associated with the far left. Strap on your safety belts.
A wonderful and unbiased analysis by master Amerika Experte and Spiegel author Klaus Brinkbäumer as to why Barack Obama is no longer as popular as he once was - (complete with a photo gallery compiled to feed the deeply ingrained stereotypes and Feindbilder of the German left.)
Favorite German stereotypes and Feindbilder - Hyper-patriots, cowboys, stange tea-lady and Sarah Palin
"The older, conservative German demonstrators who have recently been taking to the streets to protest against the controversial "Stuttgart 21" railway station project are the product of demographic change and their own fears. But the German protesters look absolutely harmless compared to America's hate-mongers, gun freaks and Tea Party demagogues who first compare Obama to Hitler and then minutes later to Stalin. They are people so filled with vitriol they can no longer think straight -- people like television presenter Glenn Beck, who says that putting the common good first is "exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany." Beck has millions of followers, and appears in public with former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, the darling of the Tea Party movement, who gleefully pronounces Obama's middle name Hussein as if it were a naughty, menacing word. Just two years ago, such things would have been taboo, and considered below-the-belt by Republicans." (...) "While the older, white hate mongers make loud noises, surveys show that the younger generation are generally satisfied with the direction their country is heading in. Or rather, they are indifferent, taking a benevolent view of the nice, pleasant adults, their nice, pleasant president and those wild stories about 2008. The haters, on the other hand, will go and vote in November."
Summary: Obama Opponents = Fanatical Extremists
Here the author clearly implies that there is no constructive, intellectually-founded opposition to Obama and his policies. Instead, the opposition consists of older white fanatics, hate-mongers and gun-nuts - who - in being so demonized - are not worth listening to or understanding. The photo gallery further reinforces this conclusion.
Spiegel's black-and-white view of the opposition: More evil hyper-patriotism, extremists, and hated tea-partiers
"Of course the American media is largely responsible for the impression people get of President Obama as well as the state of the nation as a whole. Fox News, Rupert Murdoch's TV news channel, has come to specialize in partisan mudslinging. Four of the potential future Republican presidential candidates are on Fox's payroll. The liberal channels are only different -- they are no longer any better. CNN has atrophied into a soapbox for journalist presenters. There is no analysis anymore on American TV, and little news -- only polemical attacks and shouting delivered in 90-second chunks. Only the major newspapers still provide intelligent analysis, by people like the New York Times' insightful and levelheaded columnist David Brooks. Unfortunately, Obama's America is so polarized that the views of Brooks and his ilk are only read on the east and west coasts, and thus have little influence."
Summary: American Media = Dominated by the Right and Superficial
The author is feeding a long held stereotype, nourished for decades by the German media, that there is little quality or diversity in American media. The irony here is that the above description is a far more accurate description of the state-dominated German press. The author seems to imply that because the United States is "polarized" - that left-wing views are somehow ignored or unavailable to anyone not living on the east or west coasts. That - of course - is preposterous. The reality is that an incredibly diverse array of media are available to Americans everywhere (without even mentioning the online offering). What Klaus Brinkbäumer fails to understand is how anyone could reject the logic of the Left - and he therefore concludes that the left-wing point of view is somehow not available or comprehendible due to mysterious factors such as "polarization".
"And there have been many weaknesses. Obama allowed Congress to negotiate the details of his healthcare reform while he deliberately held back. What emerged was a half-hearted reform that is complicated and that is really a reform of the health insurance system. But to get that reform, Obama used up his political capital, the one window of opportunity every new president gets."
Summary: Health Care Reform did not go Far Enough
Here the author implies that health care reform has not been popular or appreciated because it did not go far enough. In fact, most of the opposition to the plan comes from those who would characterize it as excessive government involvement in the health care industry - and who support its repeal.
"But there are also contradictions. Millions of Americans want to reduce the power of the government, because that's the way their countrymen have always thought. Yet these same Americans want their president to lead them out of crisis. They want railway stations, schools and clean energy, but they don't want to pay taxes. They are the descendants of immigrants, and proud of it. But they oppose immigration."
Summary: Opposition to Larger Government = Opposition to ALL Government
This is a common criticism of those who favor more limited government - essentially accusing them of supporting anarchy. The author mistakes an honest desire for a more limited and efficient government for an insidious desire to eliminate government. He implies that those who oppose an expansion of government somehow cede the right to expect anything of government. He does not understand that those who want a smaller government can still heartily support the presence of government where appropriate and financially feasible.
"Weren't there more urgent issues he could have tackled, like energy reform for example, which would have entailed a real change of direction and which would have meant re-educating America's consumers?"
Summary: Obama Didn't Have Enough Time to Adequately (Re)Educate Americans
Wow - re-educating American consumers - REALLY? Perhaps the author was having a 60s flashback - or perhaps the true problem is that economic conditions in the energy market simply do not reflect the utopian view that wind farms and solar panels will soon magically replace fossil fuels as primary energy sources.
Conclusion: Obama is not a bad president, but expectations were too high, AND:
"The Haters" - Obama's evil, irrational, white, hate-monger, gun-nut, tea party opponents - are too loud and have instilled too much fear
The media is dominated by Fox News and other (rational and unbiased) media (such as MSNBC and the New York Times) are ignored by the gun-nuts in middle America
Health reform did not go far enough
Obama could have re-educated Americans in other policy areas, but ran out of political capital
Americans oppose expansion of government - even though they hypocritically expect things from government - (which automatically means they oppose ALL government and have no right to ever expect anything from their government)
Well - its such a pity that Obama doesn't take advice from Der Spiegel and Über-Oberlehrer Klaus Brinkbäumer. After all, he can still reach for the polling records set by President Bush and Gerhard Schroeder at the end of their terms...
Endnote: On the bright side - at least Spiegel Online did interview a staunch Obama opponent and allow him to speak for himself. This may still be rare - but at least readers get some exposure to a different voice.
Not that we agree with Spiegel's overblown blanket criticism - this is simply requiring media platforms to be technically equipped to comply with a wiretap order - but isn't this the same administraton that furiously condemned Bush for eavesdropping?
In any case, looks like the Spiegel-Obama love-affair is over...the headline and photo choice speak volumes...
...an ever daunting task for the German media, as James Taranto explains in this article, which is based on a New York Times report:
Grounded by Global Warmism
Visiting London may get harder in the years ahead because of the new
Conservative-led government's odd priorities, the New York Times
In a bold if lonely environmental stand,
Britain's coalition government has set out to curb the growth of what
has been called "binge flying" by refusing to build new runways around
London to accommodate more planes. (...)
It's hard to imagine Margaret Thatcher doing something like this. Meanwhile, The Daily Caller reports that Deutsche Welle, Germany's publicly funded broadcast network, held a "Global Media Forum" last week:
to the conference website, this year's event drew some 1500
participants from 95 countries. The topic: "The Heat is On: Climate
Change and the Media." . . .
however, sparked particular controversy. Its title: "How to
professionally deal with climate skepticism"--or as its German title
translates: how to deal with "skeptics." As the description of the
workshop makes clear, "deal with" here is a euphemism. "Let both sides
make their point and let the audience sort out what is true" is the
traditional "mantra" of journalism, the organizers admit. "But with
climate change, things are not so easy," the text continues. "Falling
back on a 'neutral' journalistic position can mean playing into the
hands of the skeptics at the expense of the basis of life."
while German journalists may be abandoning professional standards in
favor of propaganda(emphasis added), the Times notes that Frankfurt International
Airport has "recently been expanded" and will pick up some of the
traffic Heathrow is forgoing.
German journalists "abandoning professional standards in favor of propaganda"?
70 % of Germans polled consider their economic system hardly or not at all socially just. "A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters
finds that 24% believe American society is generally unfair and
The very of embodiment of capitalism, the U.S., fares better in the category "social justice" than welfare state Germany, based on the subjective judgement of each population?
Makes you wonder whether Germany shouldn't turn to American style capitalism in order to improve social justice in the country...
His observation on the mountain of German taxpayer money going to support corrupt public television (that specializes in broadcasting anti-American programming and news...see our posts on ARD and ZDF) is a particularly apt one...
"Channel One/Two. Yes, without any doubt....the two state-run TV channels are the
most corrupt and incompetent channels that you can imagine. They pay tons of tax
money for sports events, which have limited interest across the spectrum. They
run anti-US news episodes on a daily basis. (...)
Anti-American behavior. It's rare that I ever ran into it. Over the past
year, I've had a dozen people describe situations in Kaisersluatern, Landstuhl
and Ramstein village where they ran into this attitude. Some were embarrassing
for my associates. I've had two cases in fifteen years. There's nothing much you
can say or do.....they want to let you know their feelings....even though you've
never met the guy before in your life. You stand there....listen to their
lecture for about 60 seconds, and then start smiling. They hate that for some
reason.....I won't even speculate why. The more you smile....the less pleasure
they get out of the experience.
The four classes of German society. It
took me five years to realize there are four classes of people in Germany.
First, there are the Hartz IV crowd.....at the bottom of the economic pile. Some
are simply unlucky and deserve a better chance than what they've got. Then you
have the middle-class guy whose worked hard....owns a house....goes to Italy
once a year for a vacation....drinks beer (not wine).....and doesn't complain or
whine about much. Then you have the intellectual crowd who own or operate the
state-run TV networks or the political parties or the educational sector. The
intellectuals pretend that they really are that smart, but you tend to realize
the middle-class guy is typically loaded with common sense and a bit smarter.
Finally, you've got the status crowd. The status folks can be fairly down on the
economic pole or fairly up....doesn't matter. They have things to show off and
make their status known. If you buy a new fancy car....and you've got a status
guy next door.....expect him to buy a new car within a month or two....just to
get one-up-on-you. The status crowd always ask how much you paid for a new item.
The rules. Frankly, there are about forty thousand rules to living your
life in Germany. Don't wash your car on Sundays. Don't mow grass between 1400
and 1600. Walk your dog only in these locations. I could go on and on. I'm
surprised the base doesn't have a 4-hour lecture on German rules to keep guys
out of trouble as they arrive for the first time. I came to hate the massive
list of rules. Some did make sense....the other fifty percent....didn't. I won't
miss this kind of atmosphere"
By the way - Happy New Year to everyone who has read and supported our blog since 2003. David and I are increasingly busy with "real life" and simply cannot blog as much as we used to. Frankly - we have also said much of what we wanted to say over the years on this subject. That said - we will never forget our readers and the friends who supported us and our work. We miss our daily conversation and we wish you the best in this new decade.
Out of ideas and without any hope of a last minute hate-America hail-mary pass or flood disaster to rally the party faithful à la Gazprom Gerhard Schroeder, the SPD gets destroyed in German elections. With just 23% of the vote, Schroeder wannabe Steinmeier and company will be riding the back benches for quite a while with any luck.