Mark Falcoff: The view from Germany

Occasional contributor Mark Falcoff is resident scholar emeritus at AEI. He is the author of books including Modern Chile, 1970-1989: A Critical History and Cuba the Morning After: Confronting Castro’s Legacy. Dr. Falcoff writes to comment on the German perspective on tomorrow’s election:

At this writing it is not clear who will win tomorrow’s presidential election in the United States. But if, as some surveys suggest, Mitt Romney is the victor, Germany will go into a deep state of shock and disbelief.

The reason for this is simple: the German media have simply not prepared the public here for such a possibility.

During the last few weeks I’ve been astounded by the misinformation and distortions about the race that have appeared in all sorts of German outlets, including so-called conservative papers like Die Zeit (Hamburg) or the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. To any American who can read and understand German, it’s quite clear: when it comes to reporting on U.S. politics, the media here is twice as bad as its American counterpart. Try to get a handle on that.

Let me merely offer a few examples.

Some weeks ago Senator Harry (Dirty) Reid suggested not so obliquely that Mitt Romney was a felon. This was, of course, a scurrilous accusation which the Senator did not bother to back up with the slightest bit of evidence. Nonetheless, Der Spiegel (a normally serious news magazine) ran an entire article as if all of the allegations were true, repeating the accusations as if they were facts.

Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement of Obama a few days was blown up to Something Big by German television, as if Rick Santorum or even Richard Lugar had endorsed the president. I have had to explain to my friends that (a) Bloomberg had never been a Republican until he decided to run for mayor the first time, and put his name on that column only because the Democrats already had a candidate (b) he had resigned from his nominal membership in the GOP after his first term and (c) is now claiming to be an independent. Anyone who knows New York City–I am talking about you, news writers for German television–could not ignore the fact that except for Rudy Giuliani, no serious Republican has played an important role in the city’s politics for decades.

The latest is Hurricane Sandy. One of the local tabloids here in Munich ran a cartoon on the front page a few days ago showing the clouds swirling around with the message (in English of course) “I Love Obama”–as if it were a matter of unquestioned fact that this was a turning point in the president’s favor. A few days later, of course, since the administration’s cluelessness before our greatest national disaster in years has suddenly caused the needle to move in the other direction, nothing more on the subject has been said.

Many people one encounters here are almost incredulous that anyone would even BOTHER to run against Obama, since he is so wonderful. In fact, Gala, which is kind of a German equivalent of People (but even glossier and glitzier) even ran an article last week entitled “Why Germans Love Barack and Michelle Obama So Much.” Because I was in a restaurant eating lunch at the time I took a pass and didn’t read it, so I am not able to report to Power Line readers why this is so. But if things turn out the way many pollsters and analysts in the U.S. have been saying, the Germans are going to need heavy medication for some time.

Mark Falcoff contributes to various Web sites from Munich. Among his previous contributions to Power Line are “Venezuela loses” and “Mark Falcoff’s guide to the guidebooks.”

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