Jewish World Review Sept. 25, 2002 / 19 Tishrei, 5763
Debra J. Saunders
You know that old saw about how people often
criticize others for the very traits they themselves
hold? It works for Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, Germany's
Oops, she just resigned.
There wasn't a wet eye in the White House, I'm sure,
when her resignation became official.
Daeubler-Gmelin had schnitzel on her face last week
when a German newspaper reported that she told a
labor group that President Bush was beating the Iraq
war drum because "Bush wants to distract attention
from his domestic problems. That's a popular
method. Even Hitler did that."
Then she looked even more like a dummkopf -- sort
of like the German caricature of Bush -- when she
denied making that statement. She said she didn't
use the H-word, but had said "Adolf Nazi."
As if that makes a difference.
The best part is that it's her boss, Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder, who promised not to send
German troops to fight a U.S. war in Iraq, after his re-
election juggernaut seemed doomed because of his
With the highest unemployment rate in the European
Union -- near 10 percent -- Germany's economy is in
pathetic shape. If Schroeder had what Daeubler-
Gmelin called Bush's "domestic problems" -- as in,
5.7 percent unemployment -- he'd be dancing in the
Instead, Schroeder has to resort to Bush-bashing to
win back German voters, whom you can credit with a
strong turnout -- around 80 percent -- and poor
memory. Schroeder had said that he wouldn't
deserve re-election if he couldn't pull German
joblessness below 3.5 million. More than 4 million
Germans are out of work.
Of course, the Germans have a right to opt out of any
war against Iraq. It's not as if they owe the United
States any favors -- even if the United States gave
them money instead of their country after they tried
to lay Europe to waste.
Schroeder also has a right to attack U.S.
unilateralism, while engaging in the unilateral position
of announcing he won't send German troops to Iraq
as part of a U.N. mission. (The New York Times
reports that Germans expect Schroeder to flip on that
position later, because they have no faith in election
Still, it's weird when German leaders decide to insult
Americans -- by equating Americans with Germans.
During the election, Schroeder said he wouldn't "click
his heels" to do Bush's bidding.
Yo, kaiser, heel-clicking is a German military thing.
So you don't use it as a slur at the same time you're
talking up this new old idea of "the German way."
Besides, as the JWR's Doug Bandow noted,
it's not as if the Bushies expected the Germans to
occupy the Iraqi front line. "It's not like we were going
to ask them to contribute armored divisions from the
Bundeswehr," Bandow quipped.
My favorite line from Daeubler-Gmelin came when
she said it was "absurd and libelous to attribute to
me a comparison between a democratically elected
politician and a leading Nazi."
Does that mean it's libelous to assume she knew
enough about German history to understand that
Hitler was democratically elected? Maybe "the
German way" is forgetting the facts.
Meanwhile, the Germans can hurl all the Teutonic
anti-American insults in their arsenal and one thing
won't change: No American official is going to put
them down by calling them cowboys.
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate