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 , 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.
Summary: Americans Oppose Immigration
As for immigration - most Americans support LEGAL immigration - yet oppose ILLEGAL immigration. The author fails to recognize the obvious distinction. Further, Americans are generally more tolerant of immigrants and better at integrating them than are Germans.
- "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.