Looking back at the presidency of Barack Obama, I feel that I owe him an apology.
As much as I liked the man (and I still do): His political achievements neither seemed to meet his nation’s nor the world’s expectations, not even his own announcements. I kept thinking that being a decent, educated, graceful, humorous, compassionate, witty and, as far as the office would allow it, honest human being was not enough to fulfill the tasks he encountered.
I regret that now.
It is only day two after the transition of power and Obama’s successor has cut back the newly installed healthcare system without providing an alternative – I seriously doubt that we will ever see one -, declared war on the media and let his press secretary shout out an outright lie. He fired all foreign US ambassadors without granting them even the shortest period of grace. With his wife he opened the dance at one of the inauguration balls to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, of all songs (though I loved that line about facing the final curtain being sung in this context). And this inauguration speech… well. Let us say it left no doubt about his goals and in which style he is going to pursue them.
Our hope now lies not only in the US constitutional entities, the opposition, international media and, last but not least, the people (look at those marches! Restored my faith! Well, in parts) to check on this presidency to the best of their abilities. It also depends on the world’s leaders including, much as I hate to say it, Vladimir Putin to keep calm and act sensibly in the face of threat, bully, disinformation and narcissism.
Thus I am considering in earnest, for the first time in my life as a voter, to support the conservative candidate in the upcoming German federal election. Due to our electoral system, I am able to do so only by voting for her party, the none too Christian democrats. But all facts considered, as of today, they may be the only ones capable of rallying enough votes to build a sustainable majority. I do not like the thought of Angela Merkel now being the leader of the free world, as so many people seem to think. I do not like it at all. Nevertheless there may be some truth in it.
Speaking of leaders, I am actually looking forward to Frank-Walter Steinmeier becoming our next federal president. Even if you do not approve of what he did during his time as Chief of Staff of the Chancellery under Gerhard Schröder, both to the German social democrats and their supporters, let alone to the German social security system: There is a diplomat and a professional if I ever saw one.
For we desperately need professionals to deal with an amateur going berserk.