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Good bye, Gerhard Schröder

by jandsm Mon Nov 21st, 2005 at 04:18:14 AM EST

From the front page ~ whataboutbob

Gerhard Schröder is about to leave his office as Germany's 7th post-war chancellor. Time for a farwell I have fought against his re-election proudly, but I have to admit I will miss him. Next wednesday, if Angela Merkel gets a majority on tuesday in parliament [not so sure, yet (in German)], will be the first day since 1990 that I will not have been governed by Mr Schröder who was also my Prime Minister in Lower Saxone.

Today again, he managed to make me laugh out loud and wholeheartly: every outgoing chancellor gets a huge military ceremony (Zapfenstrech) when he/she leaves the office. Soldiers will march and the Bundeswehr - Band will play some traditional military music and the national anthem.

Yet, every chancellor is allowed to add 3 songs to the programme and Schröder's selection says a lot about him ans his chancellorship:

  • Frank Sinatras "My Way"
  • Gershwins "Summertime"
  • Berthold Brechts: "Mack the knife"


An awesome and fitting selection. For example the lyrincs of "My way" provide some great analogies:

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way [...]

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

Yes, he was a comeback politician. He came from nowhere  and proved and once and for all that it is possible to becaome chancellor with no other agenda than your own personal biography and aim for power. Sometimes he reached to far, but mostly people were willing to forgive him. In the end he managed a surprise comeback. He lost his last election - but far from as devastating as many had predicted.

He did have formidable opponents: Oskar Lafontaine, Ernst Albrecht and many others. I believe it is no surprise he was beaten in the end by the only female politician who came close to his rank. Just like in 1993 when he lost his race for SPD-chairmanship against Rudolf Scharping because of the surprise entry of Heidemarie Wiezorik-Zeul, who now survives him in the cabinet as minister for economic coorporation.

And all the womanizing...very Sinatraesk. Schröder came into office in his fourth marriage. He managed to politically survive the mother of all scandals. He cheated on his wife Hillu on an oil-plattform in the North Sea with his later wife-then-hournalist Doris. That was pretty mean: Hillugate as it became known.

He was at his best, when he was lazy. As Gershwin put it:

Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry

One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky"...

He and his government manageg to trannsform Germany in a laid back and more open place. Gay Civil Unions, a new immigration law, renewable energy instead of nuclear power... only those who had to live through 16 years of Helmut Kohls conservative rule can understand how liberating it felt to have im gone.

Of course, it ended in disappointment. The German Anti-terror laws are harsh, his economic policies were at best inconsistent and most of the cabinet was second or third class.

But there were great times, too. The same chancellor that fought the illegal war against Serbia managed to stand up against the U.S. on the question of war against Iraq. He and his foreign minister Joschka Fischer were right on substance and in style.

It is worth remembering Fischer's great speeches to the U.N. Security council in 2003. Like this one:

All possible options for resolving the Iraq crisis by peaceful means must be thoroughly explored. Whatever decisions need to be made must be taken by the Security Council alone. It remains the only body internationally authorized to do so.

Military action against Iraq would - in addition to the terrible humanitarian consequences - above all endanger the stability of a tense and troubled region. The consequences for the Near and Middle East could be catastrophic.

There should be no automatism leading us to the use of military force. All possible alternatives need to be exhaustively explored.

They were right and it is on record.

Schröder was a master in the field of politics and he didn't take prisoners. He was indeed a little bit like Mack the Knife:

See the shark with teeth like razors
All can read his open face
And Macheath has got a knife but
Not in such an obvious place

See the shark how red his fins are
As he slashes at his prey
Mac the Knife wears white kids gloves which
Give the minimum away"

When they will play this one, not everyone of his former cabinet members and M.P.s will have a smile on his or her face.

He was a brutal political animal. For his policies towards China and Russia, he deserves to be prosecuted, but German politics will be poorer for his departure. A new, compentend, yet far more boring group of leaders is taking over. Schröder is gone. He will go down in history as the second best social democratic chancellor, between Brandt and Schmidt, the distant third.

In the end, I am glad he is gone but for whatever else, he was fun.

Display:
You write: "I have fought against his re-election proudly..."

Can you say that in German? I cannot. It's an Americanism, right? Would Nadir (sic!) supporters have said the same with regards to John Kerry? "I have fought against his election proudly." Hm...

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Thu Nov 17th, 2005 at 06:03:01 PM EST
...ja, ich bin stolz darauf, gegen Gerhard Schröder Wahlkampf gemacht zu haben. Sein politisches Ende betrachte ich mit großer Befriedigung.

As for your Kerry and Nader analogy, I can only say this: I still have a Howard Dean poster on my wall. And who was John Kerry in the first place?

by jandsm on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 03:38:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And who was John Kerry in the first place?

The second candidate of the War Party. "John Kerry reporting for service!" (BTW, he was among those pushing Clinton towards Desert Fox - read here.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 04:17:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ja klar, there's a lot of satisfaction to be gained from the re-installment of Bush and the advent of Berluskoni and Murkle. Something the Lafontaines, Nadirs and Bertinottis of this worls can be really proud of.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 09:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
:-) take it easy, just like Gustav Heinemann did - someone you seem to appreciate. Heinemanns and Brandts SPD were electable, but there was no way any true democratic socialist (read the party plattform of the SPD [Berliner Programm] for what I mean) could give this SPD his/her vote. I am sorry: Hartz IV, Otto Schily.... look where HArtz himself ended up: in a courtroom.

gotta go to bielefeld now...if it exists.

by jandsm on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 09:45:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is perfectly okay for my prudish leftist friends to remain political virgins. They don't want to get hurt? Fine. Real Realpolitik is bad? Bene.

It's ok to cry.

link:

http://www.rootsofcompassion.org/newshop/catalog/images/

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 10:05:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ritter, I somehow fail to reconcile this defense of 'realist politics' with your earlier denouncement of Realo Greens :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 01:52:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, Nader did not fight against Kerry's election. The Democratic Party used all kinds of legal shenanigans to keep Nader off the ballot this time around, and look what good it did them.

Nader, unlike Kerry, had a platform that put the American people first. Kerry's platform was empire-lite, and his message whatever his campaign advisors thought would capture the "swing voters".

While Bush supporters were true believers, Kerry campaigners were almost apologetic (anybody but Bush is not exactly an endorsement of Kerry).

And blaming Nader for Gore's defeat is disingenuous too. Had Gore won in Florida, he would have been the first president in a long time (ever?) to win the election without carrying his home state. Apart from winning Tennesee, Gore should have been able to "win" the three campaign debates against Bush with his brain tied to his back, and he failed to do that, too (the impression was that he won the first, tied the second and lost the third, on foreign policy).

The Democratic party has nobody to blame but themselves.

Out with the politics of lesser-evilism!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 09:30:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quote: "Nader, unlike Kerry, had a platform that put the American people first."

Nadir's has always had a platform to put American consumer rights first. He is a consumer rights advocate, not a politician. When it comes to politics Nadir is a trickster - very much like Panella. Both hate organized working class politics.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 10:13:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have seen him speak. He actually talks about what's wrong with america and how to fix it. Democrats talk about what's right with America and how to export it.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 10:16:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep.

And Kerry if elected would have been the final failure of the Democrats.

He would have continued the sell-out of the working class just like Clinton (who removed more welfare than Reagan). He would have stayed in Iraq, and the Republicans would have made sure that it is viewed as his failure. So would have the oil price hike. While we Europeans would probably have been drawn into the Iraqi mess more strongly.

And what I argued at the time was that the real issue was 2008, not 2004. Had Kerry won in 2004, four years later Jeb Bush or some other Republoscum much more intelligent than Dubya would have taken over - in a real landslide. Then it would have been good-bye America once and for all - now there is some chance that they will be buried deep enough under the Iraq mess and economic troubles for not even Diebold saving them.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 01:48:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hillugate showes maybe one of the main differences of what is expected from politicians in Europe. In the US with that kind of baggage Schröder would never have been elected. In a way appreciate that the private life is not such a big consideration here.
by Fran on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 03:55:12 AM EST
Great diary - and jan, good to see you back!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 04:17:36 AM EST
thx! I moved to another flat and it took my new telephone company about 7 weeks to get me online. Another myth of the benefits of privatization was destroyed right in front of my eyes :-)
by jandsm on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 04:28:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
before we realize that privatization just means looting whatever still functions?  

You guys in the EU should take a good, hard look before following the US down that long, dark road.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Tue Nov 22nd, 2005 at 05:51:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We need more Americans to loudly make that point in the European media.

In 2000 I had an opportunity to attend a Nader rally and was amazed at his favourable depiction of the European model. I thought then that he should go on a speaking tour around Europe.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 22nd, 2005 at 05:53:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The flip side to privatization is that when a large corporation or a whole industry crashes, instead of a government bailout there should be a government buy-out.

Unfortunately governments are afraid of suggesting that. But they should do so, and forcefully.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 22nd, 2005 at 05:59:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not know exactly what you mean by prosecuted by his action in Russia and CHina...

But I think if you  set that bar over there almost 90% of present leaders would go to jail directly...sometimes realpolitik is just real real, and sometimes you make a stand... but prison? well may be you are taling about something really awful that I do not know.

In any case, good bye Geard... have fun

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 04:50:01 AM EST
I do not know exactly what you mean by prosecuted by his action in Russia and CHina...

Let me guess. Jan probably resents the fact that Schröder struck some major economic deals with China and Russia, right?

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 09:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I resent the chancellors decision to call Mr. Putin a "true democrat" and to completely ignore the human rights situation in Chechnya. Worse, Schröder even supported Russias so called "war on terror".

Regarding China I disapprove the policy to end the ban on weapons exports.

by jandsm on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 09:47:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what I thought. For the record: I think that Putin showed great courage and a remarkable sense of defending the new democratic system when he cracked down on the oil industry's bloodsuckers. And I'm for lifting the arms embargo against China. I also support their re-unification with Taiwan policies.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 10:26:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin defending the democratic system?!  And since when is a new set of thieves stealing from the old bunch anything laudable?  Not to mention that Putin's methods in the Caucasus make America's rights abuses in its prison camps and the war in Iraq look like models of due process and humane warfare.

Plus, why do you support a dictatorship conquering a democracy in the case of China and Taiwan?

by MarekNYC on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 12:04:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, Ritter, cannot follow you there.
Putin did not "crack down on the oil industry's bloodsuckers" - he replaced them with his pal bloodsuckers, incompetent ones at that, and he destroyed whatever was left of Russian democracy.

Oh, and he got a few tens of thousand of Chechens massacred, and he doesn't control the Red Army.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 12:19:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And he handled the Moscow theatre and Beslan School hostage situations incompetently if not criminally. Not to speak of using the Moscow apartment building and underground station bombings to crack down on civil liberties.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 12:27:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, it is Ok, then you are really a high standard guy...if Schroder should go to prison I can not imagine what you would do with any of the presidents of the US since the beginning of the last century...or a lot of others European presidents.

Hopefully it is a standard that one day we could apply...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 11:18:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
come on :-) this is an ironic diary. don't take everything in it too seriously..
by jandsm on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 12:57:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Serious. me? are you kidding?

Well, maybe, yes, my hope was too serous for my normal tastes.. but you know.. sometimes something nice appears in me.. and I can not avoid it..

Call me a nice wonderful (and quite handsome) guy... what can I do then.. yes I show my sensibility...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 04:12:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, jan, I share your ambivalence about Schröder, this love/hate, good-riddance/nostalgia.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 01:50:37 PM EST
I have been a SPD member for 11 years before I left in 2004. I will not forget the pain and the joy of these years.
by jandsm on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 03:12:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"Pain and Joy." I love your Hippie attitude! Unfortunately you don't live up to it. - Words -.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 05:15:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice obituary, jan!

Mack the Knife being played by a military brass band. This is so grotesque! I wonder what Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill would think if they saw the chancellor, the defense minister and the brass band listening to their song, with the Antifa-protesters across the police fence whistling and yelling. There will be a live broadcast on TV (ARD, today (Saturday), 20.15). I am not going to miss this!

by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 06:35:17 PM EST

It's fun to screw your country up for nothing, provided you make it, get this, a more laid back and fun place.

Here's one sane German's commentary on German govt under Schroder:

http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2005/11/the_hu_jintao_v.html

Schroder has been promised job in Gazprom, after he leaves politics.

Sure, that makes sense - German politician working in the largest Russian, post-commie kleptocrat mob-fused-with-former-KGB empire dealing in oil.

I mean, Schroder must have learned that from Bush with his Haliburton.

But hey! Germany is more laid back place!

by bbdb on Fri Nov 18th, 2005 at 10:21:07 PM EST
Not dealing in oil - in gas, much more important in Russia.

But I am not sure it would happen - it is such an obvious bribe (Schroeder brings strictly NOTHING to Gazprom). If it did, it would speak very poorly of Schroeder - but on the other hand it would possibly put the spotlight on the stupid rationales for our senselle diplomacy viz. Russia.

And btw - welcome to eurotrib!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 19th, 2005 at 05:17:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good luck, suckers!  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Tue Nov 22nd, 2005 at 05:43:55 AM EST


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