Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Why HIllary is Losing, or, Just Another Night in the Kakadu Bar
I learned something the other night about East Germans' love/hate relationship to the German chancellor Angela Merkel. And at the same time something about Hillary's showing in the primaries.
I was putting on my Deutschland-Quiz show in the legendary Kakadu Bar in front of an audience of about 100 or so (I was told). The Kakadu Bar was legendary in the DDR and is still a great bar, with great seating and lots of bars and the music was great, the whole thing, I loved it, and the audience was great. They say Saxons are very closed-mouthed, but these guys were very involved in the show and had a great sense of humor.
The highlight of the show was when I asked for candidates someone pointed to a guy next to them and when I got him on stage he looked strangely familiar. Stocky, bearded, gemuetlich. I thought: "This can't be that Emmerich guy, can it?" Gunther Emmerich is a famous East German opera singer and TV show host who was a big star in the DDR and had a couple of major TV shows after the fall of the Wall, too... and, I found out later, happens to live near the Kakadu Bar. I asked him his name and he said in a deep, sonorous voice that is well-known in Germany: "Emmerich."
So now I can say I had the great Gunther Emmerich on my stage.
After the show I had a drink with Jork, the other male candidate of the evening, and we got to talking about Angela Merkel. Merkel is, of course, not on Germany's first female chancellor, but also its first East German chancellor - which is kind of like having a first woman president and a first black president all rolled into one. Merkel belongs to the conservative CDU party and while the sitting, liberal chancellor Schroeder was getting points and votes by saying "No" to Bush and the Iraq War, Merkel traveled to Washington and met with Bush, which was interpreted as a sign of sucking up to him.
"That hurt", said Jork. "It hurt so much to watch he do that - to disregard any moral principles for votes." He was torn - he wanted so much to have an East German chancellor - it was really the big chance for East Germans, who suffer from a certain lack of self-esteem and are considered to have lost the Cold War and have been "subsumed" by West Germany rather than "joined".
When it came time to vote, he said, he had to drink something first before going to the voting booth. Then he voted against her. He couldn't vote for her after that. "But it hurt", he said. And a lot of his friends, he said, had the same dilemma - voting against the candidate you want most out of moral considerations, or just because you feel betrayed.
I'll bet there are a lot of women in the States who in the past months have had a similar experience.