Those who think Barack Obama–who lest we forget, hasn’t taken office yet–is moving too slowly to deal with the economic crisis should look at Germany and count their blessings. As Clay Risen explains at The New Republic, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel seems to have been paralyzed by recent events:
Of all Europe’s leaders, no one has suffered from the economic crisis quite as much as Merkel, because no one has mishandled the crisis quite as badly as Merkel. Germany is facing its biggest economic challenge since World War II–the Bundesbank is predicting GDP to shrink by at least, 0.8 percent in 2009; many think that’s overly optimistic–and economists, politicians, media and the public across the spectrum are calling for tax cuts and stimulus spending of the sort being rolled out in France and other EU states.
But Merkel prefers to play the Dutch uncle–er, aunt–in this situation, telling a recent party congress that the crisis called not for government action but personal belt-tightening. Doing her best Jimmy Carter impression, she told the German parliament that her goal “is not to overcome the crisis” but “to build a bridge so that we at least can start recovering in 2010.”
She’s also, in a stand that will certainly separate her from every other leader in the industrialized world, determined to balance Germany’s budget within the next four years.
No wonder Risen says of Merkel:
When she came into office, fans said she would be Germany’s Margaret Thatcher. Now she’s looking more and more like Germany’s Herbert Hoover.