Here we go. My latest attempt to get you lot interested in German politics. Intelligence agents protecting Nazi terrorists didn’t seem to stir much in you, at least in Facebook likes. I guess you all decided ages ago that German cops are just the Gestapo in disguise. Preaching to the long-jaded, huh? I can’t really blame you because even German political correspondents, and indeed German politicians, think German politics is boring, which became clear at the creaking yawn that was the coverage of this week’s big budget debate in the Bundestag. The ZDF’s news package featured a lovely montage of every party leader in the chamber playing with their phones while the others did their speeches. Even Gregor Gysi has an Iphone, which is vaguely disappointing.
While the rest of Europe votes for fascists and teeters on the brink of war, complacency and torpor rule the German front. Where does that leave me? I wish I lived in Egypt. Egyptian political bloggers are always winning awards. Fuck it, I’m going to keep rolling my rock: are you interested in the German president’s speech to the banker’s conference this week? Everyone loves Joachim Gauck. Germans love him. The English-speaking press, whenever they mention him, always calls him “a former pastor and human rights activist,” a tag that exudes wisdom and honour.
This REALLY annoys me. Because he’s not wise and honourable. He’s a craven appeaser of everything that is wrong in Germany. His reasonableness stinks. He’s dismantled one of the reasons why the German presidency exists – since it’s not a directly elected office, the idea is that the president acts as a kind of moral leader. Free of the burdens of populism, the German president is supposed to speak to the conscience of the nation. Gauck’s predecessors, Horst Köhler and Christian Wulff, both did this better than Gauck, who – as is often the way with clergymen – he blames the congregation for the crimes of those in power. Now he has followed up his defence of Thilo Sarrazin, and his call for Germany to get involved in more foreign conflicts, with a defence of the bankers whose speculation and whose bonus system – rewarding failure – precipitated an economic collapse.
Both Köhler and Wulff delivered scathing speeches at the same bankers congress in the past – but not Gauck, who “spoke as if from our own hearts” as Deutsche Bank Chief Jürgen Fitschen put it. He declared that not only was market freedom the same as personal freedom (which it fucking isn’t when you’re a cleaner who has to work at night for a pittance, for example), but said normal people needed to “take responsibility” too, by learning more economics. As if this misery was their fault. He pandered to his audience and made the bankers’ case for them. That’s not what we have a president for.