I don’t envy our leaders. It’s probably hard being in charge of managing things when everyone working for you already has more experience and knowledge about doing those things than you. I mean, what are you supposed to do the whole time? Make new laws? There are already, like, thousands of them. Let’s be honest, if any of us were in power we’d probably do a Merkel: not very much, punctuated by spontaneous jags of frantic action when there’s a big, popularity-threatening crisis. For instance one that you’ve created not by letting too many people in but by allowing your social infrastructure to decay and your bureaucracy to stagnate. And even that sounds a bit harsh.
This is probably especially true if you’re in a moderate centre-right party and your whole purpose is to maintain order and punish criminals. What else is there? What else are you meant to demand when you’ve already angrily demanded every security precaution and they are long since in place?
On Monday, when a young Syrian refugee was arrested for possessing explosives he possibly planned to detonate somewhere in Germany, the CSU’s general secretary Andreas Scheuer demanded that each asylum seeker be interviewed individually rather than just handed a “multiple choice questionnaire”. This, the BAMF (the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees) later said, is actually what they already do – anyone who applies for asylum has to do an interview.
But then, in these febrile times of futile anxiety, what else can we expect from politicians? What gesture would ease our internet-frazzled minds? Should they throw up their arms and say, “Well, what the hell do you people want? We already have the safest and most prosperous society ever created in the history of mankind and I’m basically just here to make sure everyone knows what they’re meant to do. And I’m sorry if there are still sadistic morons in the world but really there’s not much we can do about them, considering that there are more people alive today than have ever lived.” No. They can’t really say that. All they can actually do is keep demanding action, or already instigated investigations.