Thursday, February 24, 2005

"Ich bin ein Feigling"

From the NY Times

Most conspicuous was the lack of contact between ordinary Germans and an American president visiting what could almost have been a stage setting: a town with buildings but no people, the shops and restaurants in the center of town closed, and only uniformed police officers on the streets.

Compare that with the main event of the first President Bush's trip here in 1989: a speech to an enthusiastic audience of 3,500 people gathered in a flag-draped hall, thrilling to Mr. Bush's declaration that Germany and America are more than "firm allies and friends," they are "partners in leadership."

After the speech, Mr. Bush and Chancellor Helmut Kohl - two men united in the great cause of winning, or at least surviving, the cold war - took a boat trip on the river, enjoying each other's company.


But this president was entirely sealed off from Germans - other than Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the German journalists at a news conference, and even a town-meeting-type encounter with Mainz residents was scrubbed out of worry the mood would be hostile. A meeting with a group of carefully screened "young leaders" was put in its place.

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