Unrequited Love

… explaining Germany’s infantile crush on Obama … a commentary – Published on Spiegel Online International, by Jan Fleischhauer, Nov. 9, 2012.

German schadenfreude (gloating) knows no bounds, particularly when it comes to the United States. The country loves to feel superior to a superpower like America. Yet Germany also harbors a childish infatuation with Obama – one which has little political grounding. The reasons are psychological.  

It’s too bad that Mitt Romney didn’t win. If the Republicans had won, we could finally have known for sure that our suspicion of America’s imminent demise is correct. “Four more years,” translated into the German viewpoint means little more than a “four-year reprieve.”

For the über-watchful (hypervigilant) among us, the signs of the downfall are obvious. One must only take a look at the condition of the streets (every fourth bridge is crumbling!), or the entirely outdated power grid, to come to the conclusion that this country has its future behind it. (for germans), a nation that has its utility lines hanging from poles in the street, instead of burying them in an orderly fashion underground, cannot really be taken seriously.

With a bit of luck, the specter across the Atlantic might even take care of itself. It can’t be ruled out. When they are not shooting each other or being fried by dangling power lines then the Americans might simply pop. Two out of every three US citizens are overweight, or even obese! Every child in Germany knows the numbers.

There is hardly an issue about which Germans as so united as they are by their desire to see America on its knees. It unites both the left and the right. Wherever they look, they see decay, a lack of culture and ignorance. “A perverse mixture of irresponsibility, greed, and religious zealotry,” as my adversary, columnist Jacob Augstein, furiously argued on Monday.

A Blessing to Live in Germany: … //

… The Infatuation with Obama:

Above all, the United States remains the largest chosen destination of millions of people in the world. If they had the choice of where they could live, the majority oddly enough would not choose the German DIN standard for happiness, but life in New York or California, where the potholes are as big as gravel pits. That may make people here want to light as many candles as possible, to pray for the downfall to finally come.

The childish excitement over Obama, that once again took hold over Germans during this election – fully 93 percent of the country would have voted for him in this election – is the flip side of this desire for America’s demise. That the Germans, of all people, should see themselves in a black civil rights attorney from Chicago can only be explained by the fact that they see him as the opposite of what they consider to be normal Americans.

Since Obama spoke to the world in front of the Victory Column in Berlin during his first presidential campaign in the summer of 2008, he has found a firm place in the hearts of German citizens. They will always be grateful to him for this honor. That’s why they forgive him for keeping Guantanamo open and for sending out drones like other people would send postcards.

In the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Andrian Kreye correctly pointed out that for Europe, life with Republican presidents is usually easier, because the US then takes the obligations of its alliances seriously.

Obama has no interest in Europe, and all of his attention goes to Asia. If this president calls the German chancellor’s office, it is only to try to sweet talk her into finally implementing euro-bonds, so Wall Street can sleep again. But that is one of those facts that is better to suppress.

Superpowers don’t disappear over the course of years. It takes decades, if not centuries. As such, the verdict might not arrive for awhile yet. The prophets of doom can continue to hope.
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