A few thoughts on Christian Wulff

February 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

The former president of Germany is off the front page and will likely stay there until something new comes up about his finances. Yesterday one of the local papers ran a picture with a caption about his family moving back to their home in Lower Saxony.

There was a lot of fuss here over the last months about what the president did — or allegedly did — with regards to his finances, loans from friends, peddling of influence. I have no idea what is true or not and state investigators are looking into it. If what he did was illegal, he should be prosecuted, just like anyone else. But it did seem to me that there was a  lot of fuss made for what I suspect many politicians (and a lot of journalists) do all the time — take advantage of their position. It was especially interesting since the president in Germany is a very ceremonial role — a lot like the vice president in the United States.

One of the best editorials I’ve read about this whole thing ran last Thursday in the Berliner Zeitung. It was the day the memorial service for the 10 people killed by neo-Nazis was held. Eight of them had Turkish backgrounds, one Greek and one was a policewoman. Wulff was instrumental in getting the service organized. He was to have spoken at the ceremony, but resigned before it took place. For German readers here’s a link to the whole story:

http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/meinung/leitartikel-zur-gedenkfeier-all-den-vielen-opfern-des-rechtsextremismus,10808020,11696392.html

The key, for me, is the editorial’s final graph. It was written by Arno Widmann (no relation):  “Wir haben ein schlechtes Gedächtnis. Wir sind gut im Wegschauen, und wir haben eine große Routine darin, uns am nächsten Tag mit dem nächsten Thema zu beschäftigen. Aber vielleicht sähe es in unserem Land auch besser aus, wenn der investigative Journalismus sich mit eben der Energie und dem Elan auf die zahlreichen ungeklärten rechtsradikalen Übergriffe stürzen würde, wie er es gerade so bravourös tat, um die kleinen legalen und womöglich illegalen, jedenfalls meist ein wenig schmuddeligen Pfennigfuchsereien des Bundespräsidenten Christian Wulff aufzudecken.”

It basically says: Germans have a guilty conscience and are good at looking away. We’ve developed a strong routine about moving on to the next topic with the next day. But maybe it would look better in our country if investigative journalism would devote as much energy and effort to the numerous unsolved radical right assaults as it did to  bravely uncover the tiny legal and possibly illegal petty deeds of President Christian Wulff.

Well said. Be nice if the “investigative machines” moved on to the radical right, but I don’t think that will happen. The presidential “discussion” has now moved onto whether it’s okay or not for Joachim Gauck, the likely next president, to move into the Bellevue presidential palace with a girlfriend and not a wife. He’s been dating a journalist for more than a decade, but they aren’t legally married. Maybe she can get the discussion to move in a different direction?

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