Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meet the President

Today, I‘ve met the President. Not Barack Obama, the German President, Christian Wulff. For those of you who have not being paying attention, probably pretty much everybody, Wulff is in trouble because he got a lot of perks from his rich friends, respectively their loving wives, starting with a 500.000 € dirt cheap loan and not ending with a toy car for his young son. Well, at least he neither took money from Fannie and Freddie nor had Brangelina over in the guest bedroom of Schloss Bellevue.

Wulff was in the Berliner Ensemble, the former theater of Bertold Brecht in Berlin, and he was interviewed by Joseph Joffe, the publisher of Die ZEIT (full disclosure: a paper I also work for). Joffe, the full-blooded transatlantic politician he is (he graduated in Harvard, teaches in Stanford, and is a member of the Aspen Institute, the Hoover Institute, the Atlantic Bridge, the American Academy and the Leo Baeck-Instititut), defended Wulff, sort of. So, evidently, the State Department still likes Angela Merkel, because Wulff has been handpicked by her, and if he has to go, she's in trouble.

The most astonishing thing, however, was the near-total lack of security. Sure, you had to sign up per email, but there was no scanner, no handbag-searching, no bringing of passport. I was sitting thirty feet away from the President. I could have thrown my shoes at him, then again, how would I‘ve gotten home? After the event, I finally saw one security guy who assured me that he was not alone. I have seen a higher level of security for Mamma Mia at the Winter Garden on Broadway.

A few of the older ladies in the audience snickered, but other than that, people were polite. Wulff pointed out that he does not want to be judged by the media (you betcha!) but by the people, but sadly, they did not have a Q&A afterwards.

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