Tag Archive: Helmut Kohl


During the course of your author’s life there have been four seminal events, each prompting the question: ‘Where were you when you heard … ?’

For Baby Boomer Almost DailyBrett, these were the four history changing news stories of a lifetime: JFK’s assassination (1963), Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon (1969), the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the September 11 attacks (2001).

Ironically, it was a fatal PR mistake 30 years ago that triggered the final inevitable fall of the Wall, and with it the ultimate demise of Soviet Union-style Communism.

East Germany’s Günter Schabowski was tasked with announcing the planned travel policy easing of the so-called German Democratic Republic’s (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR). When he was asked if the changes applied immediately … his assumed “as far as I know” response without reading the policy paper …  was affirmative.

Unintentionally he ignited the storming of the DDR’s borders, and most of all the toppling of the Berlin Wall.

Today ein Stück der Mauer prominently sits beside the elbow of your author, accompanying the futile search for the appropriate English words to recapture the global significance of this epochal event.

Tomorrow will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the monstrous Berlin Wall (1961-1989), leading directly to the reunification of Germany and the end of the Communist menace in Russia and Eastern Europe. The world is a safer place as result of overjoyed Ossies walking and driving with their sputtering Trabants  across East Germany’s borders to freedom, one of them being a woman by the name of … Angela Merkel.

She started the evening consuming a beer in a sauna east of the wall, and ended the evening drinking a celebratory brew from a bottle with a label she had never seen before on the west side of the wall. Today, she is the Chancellor of the reunified (Wiedervereinigung) Federal Republic of Germany.

Giving Proper Credit For The End Of Communism

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” — President Ronald Reagan speaking before the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall

If you ever travel to Berlin to touch the remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, be sure to take the time to check out The Checkpoint Charlie Museum. The visitor can stand without fear on the very spot on the Friedrichstrasse in which American and Soviet tanks went eyeball to eyeball with each other. A critical miscalculation could have triggered a nuclear World War III.

Former Wall Street Journal Berlin bureau chief Frederick Kempe’s “Berlin 1961, Kennedy, Khrushchev And The Most Dangerous Place On Earth” vividly recounts the tension of the superpower standoff. The museum also recounts these days, and the ingenious plots to escape East Germany and its hideous wall.

A separate wing of the museum is devoted to Reagan, his Tear Down This Wall speech on continuous loop, and his pivotal role in ending the Cold War.

And yet there is a debate to this day about who should take the lion’s share of the credit for putting together the plan, which led to the demise of the wall and the end of Communism.

The names in alphabetical order of Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, Pope Paul II and Margaret Thatcher all played a role in this transformation, and each should take a bow.

For Almost DailyBrett and those who despise historical revisionism for purely political purposes, Ronald Reagan will always take center stage in the eyes of history. He rejected detente or merely accepting Communist domination from Berlin to Vladivostok. Instead his policy was simple: “We win, they lose.”

The USSR lost.

Another winner was Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1930-2017), who skillfully linked and achieved feared German reunification with the success of the European Union.  “German and European Unification are two sides of the same coin.” („Deutsche und europäische Einigung sind zwei Seiten einer Medaille.“)

Today, Germany along with France are the de-facto leaders of Europe … regardless of when Britain leaves the EU. Germany has acknowledged, addressed and atoned its dark past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), particularly the 12 horrid years of Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust.

“The thought that a great nation (Germany) that had run amok should repent its crimes to the world. What other country has ever done such as thing?” — The character “Ed” quoting himself in John le Carré’s Agent Running in the Field

And “Ed” speaking about yesterday leading to today:

“Germany was the cat’s whiskers. It’s citizens were simply the best Europeans ever. No other nation holds a candle to Germans, not when it comes to understanding what the European union is all about.”

Naturally, the point of emphasis is made by literary master John le Carré.

And it all started The Night The Wall Came Tumbling Down.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://www.forbes.com/profile/angela-merkel/#71bd54c022dd

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/cool-calm-and-collected-germany/

A simple little phrase is ultimately bringing down one of the longest standing and most influential global leaders in the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The final demise of German Chancellor Angela Merkel after 13 years in office, most likely next year, comes three years after she grabbed and clutched the new highest voltage Third Rail of Politics: Asylum Immigration.

In 2015, Merkel unilaterally decided to allow approximately 1.2 million asylum seekers (about the size of metropolitan Portland, Oregon) from the Middle East into a country of 82 million.

From a public relations standpoint, there was very little explanation and preparation by Merkel and her government to garner public support for such a drastic upsurge of immigrants into the 4th largest economy in the world.

„Wir schaffen das,” proclaimed Angela Merkel. Simply translated: “We can do it.”

Die Kanzerlin, who is affectionately known as “Mutti’ or Mother, was widely seen for so many years as being a steady source of deliberate and reasoned decisions. Merkel deserves praise for her vital role in the completion of Germany’s public relations miracle (Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder), rising from the globe’s #1 pariah at Zero Hour 1945 to the most admired country in the world.

She has been acknowledged as the most powerful woman on earth, and yet the Ph.D in quantum chemistry was a steady hand for Germany’s now enduring and successful democracy.

At one time, Merkel was universally viewed as one of modern Germany’s greatest chancellors, comparable to her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) predecessors Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl.

Is the bloom off the rose?

Almost DailyBrett acknowledges that once she makes a major decision that Merkel is an influential leader.

When the ground shook Japan’s (e.g., 8.9 earthquake) Fukushima nuclear reactor in 2011, Merkel immediately announced that Germany would prudently exit nuclear power by 2022.

When the southern nations of the European Union were attempting to break the 2 percent budget deficit limitation rule (e.g., particularly Greece), Merkel imposed fiscal austerity, and by extension Germany’s will.

When a particular bully arrived on the scene and tried to push her around and intimidate with a large canine (e.g., Russia’s Vladimir Putin), she demonstrated her resolve.

No leader in the European leader has done more to get into the face of the former KGB chief, and yet her leadership always represented Germany as a reluctant hegemon.

Most of all because of Germany’s solid incorporation into the European Union and the passage of time, Germans now joyously wave their flag and are proud of their normal nation.

“Half-Dead Wreck”?

“I don’t want to be a half-dead wreck when I leave politics.” – Angela Merkel

In nations without term limits (e.g., Germany), leaders can overstay their welcome. More than a few in history failed to recognize the flashing lights about when it’s time to step down … usually at the 12-year-mark … from the bully pulpit (i.e., FDR, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl).

After inviting 1.2 million asylum seekers into Germany without any preamble, and worse women celebrating New Year’s Eve in Cologne being sexually assaulted and raped by asylum seekers, the tide was turning against Angela Merkel.

The optics — worse yet the reality — of the New Year’s Eve attacks became a metaphor for a decision that was too much, too fast with little societal preparation. Merkel’s chancellorship was coming to an end.

Even though her party was returned to power in 2017, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and her coalition partner, Social Democrats (SPD), repeatedly lost strength to the Greens on the left and the anti-immigrant/anti-EU Alternative for Germany on the right. This electoral trend intensified with breathtaking losses (i.e., Bavaria and Hesse) for the CDU and SPD during the course of this year.

Almost DailyBrett knows her legacy is somewhat tarnished. The question remains: Will history be good to her?

The Caravan Is Coming

Even though comparisons between two nations with two distinct cultures, located nine time zones apart, are difficult at best … one contentious issue ties both of them together: immigration.

In both countries, there are those who espouse completely open borders … come one, come all.

These souls advocate for the right of non-citizens to hold driver’s licenses, serve on public boards and commissions … and even vote.

Wasn’t the privilege of voting reserved for actual citizens?

And just as asylum seekers from Syria and other bad places became the catalyst for the political downfall of Angela Merkel, could an approaching caravan(s) of asylum seekers from Central America become the source of political peril here in America?

Before one touches the new third rail of politics … political asylum … America’s political class would be well advised to weigh what happened to Angela Merkel’s tenure as Germany’s chancellor, and most likely her legacy as well.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/opinion/in-merkel-europe-loses-a-leader.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/world/europe/angela-merkel-germany.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46020745

https://www.politico.eu/article/angela-merkel-drops-the-we-can-do-it-slogan-catchphrase-migration-refugees/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/the-right-leader-for-the-fatherlandeurope-just-happens-to-be-a-woman/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

 

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” – Winston Churchill

Relationships matter, now more than ever.

Tact also counts more than ever, even for those not known for gentile diplomacy.

It’s way too easy to obsess about our digital world with instantaneous global communication in mere nanoseconds, which was unthinkable three decades ago.

These “destructive” technologies have forever changed the world (note Facebook and Google privacy concerns).

Even more destructive is the ability to plunge the world into an unthinkable thermonuclear exchange.

And let’s not forget trying to deflect attention from the ubiquitous, addictive smart phone.

Despite all these seismic shifts in the form of digital ones-and-zeroes, personal relationships are more than ever taking center-stage, particularly in the global political arena.

Think of it as “The Art of the Deal” on steroids.

Not So Warm and Fuzzy

What are the most important public relations of all?

The answers are personal public relations and reputation management.

Do Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have the best personal PR, let alone Kim Jong Un?

This question seems almost silly, but the ability and willingness of these gents (and at least one Frau) to establish and maintain fragile bromances and romances in our scary digital world are absolutely vital for our survival.

Consider that Trump and Kim (dubbed by The Donald as “Rocket Man”) were bragging about the capability of their nuclear buttons a few months ago, yet they still may or may not meet in Singapore on June 12.

Despite the low expectations for lasting, meaningful success, the prospect of a Trump-Kim summit is far better than a potential nuclear war.

Arm-in-Arm gehen Francois Mitterrand (l) und Helmut Kohl (r)

When it comes to war and peace, bromances and romances matter. The longest sustained peace in Europe has been maintained by the establishment of The European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, followed by the European Community (EU) in 1993.

If you are scoring at home there has been peace for the most part on the European continent for 73 years and counting. The relationship between the two most influential EU members – Germany and France – has survived and prospered by means of the relationships between Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, and then Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand, and now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

As the lone woman in this equation (all due respect is afforded to the UK’s Theresa May), Merkel is rightfully regarded as the most powerful woman on earth – a title she did not seek and obviously does not cherish.

Nonetheless, Merkel has proven she is more than a match for some of the most self-absorbed men on this planet including: Trump, Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and to a lesser extent, Marcon.

Merkel’s relationship to Messrs. Trump and Putin are not warm and fuzzy, but she has been an effective foil. She rolled her eyes at Trump and reportedly insists on speaking German to Putin, while Putin speaks Russian to her – even though they are fluent in their respective languages.

Macron has obviously concluded that Trump is the leader of the world’s largest economy and power. Some have scoffed at the bromance between the two, and questioned what Macron has received in return (e.g., US pulled out the Paris accord and the Iran nuclear deal). Keep in mind that Macron has Trump’s ear, and may be Europe’s closest confidant to POTUS.

Trump’s bromance with China’s president Xi, including a visit to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, is a complicated relationship including strategizing about Kim Jong Un’s nagging North Korea and the question of tariffs and intellectual property (IP) protection. A solid, even though conflicted, relationship between the world’s two largest economic and military powers increases – not decreases – the prospect for world peace and maybe even, harmony.

President Donald Trump talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with their wives, first lady Melania Trump and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan as they pose for photographers before dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Time will tell whether Almost DailyBrett is correct on this point; hopefully that is the case.

You Can Take Putin Out of the KGB …

But you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.

Russia’s leader will play games, including inviting his black lab Koni to a 2007 summit with canine-phobic Merkel (see earlier Almost DailyBrett blog on this Machiavellian topic). How will Putin exploit perceived Trump weaknesses? How will Trump counter?

And yet these two leaders appear to enjoy each other’s company, at least in front of the cameras.

Will Trump develop the same kind of rapport with Kim Jong Un?

Kim has already kibitzed with Xi and most recently on both sides of the most heavily fortified and dangerous border with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.  The overriding subject of their historic encounters: the prospect for a summit between Kim and The Donald, regardless of the potential for success.

In our increasingly dangerous world – in which the digital ones and zeroes work for us and hopefully not against us – Almost DailyBrett takes the humble view that talking is far better than fighting.

Bromances and Romances matter.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/33365-tact-is-the-ability-to-tell-someone-to-go-to

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/common-market-founded

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

Angela Merkel is not a feminist.

There is no need for her to talk about breaking through any glass ceilings. In her own characteristic quiet and unassuming way, Merkel smashed it 12 years ago, and just did it again for the third time.

For maybe the first time since the end of occupation in 1949 Germany is a quiet, normal and happy nation, an obvious contrast to the Brexit Brits or the Trump-era Americans.

Today she is the thrice re-elected Chancellor of the patriarchal Fatherland, who just happens to be a woman … a great woman.

The soft-spoken Merkel is the most powerful voice in Europe. Some refer to her as the leader of the free world, a designation she does not want and a role that is simply too big for Germany and its 82 million people. The Economist accurately portrays Merkel’s Germany as the “reluctant hegemon.”

Merkel is on track to becoming one of the longest serving and most likely one of the greatest Kanzlers in the history of the Federal Republic of Deutschland (Bundesrepublik). Her only historical rivals are the memories of Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl.

Best of all, there is no need for Merkel to speak in the first-person singular: Ich, Mein, Mich. She prefers to talk about das Land, Deutschland.

Her campaign motto: “A Germany where we live well and gladly.” To Almost DailyBrett, this wordy mantra conjures pleasant memories of “Morning in America.”

Missing The Real Story … Again

Alas, despite Merkel’s historic accomplishments the media seems preoccupied with the initial third-place entrance of the anti-EU, anti-refugee Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) into the legislative Bundestag with about 13 percent of the vote.

With all due respect to the all-knowing and hyperventilating Fourth Estate, that’s not the story. Think of it this way: 87 percent of German voters opted for other parties, while re-electing Angela Merkel.

Maybe Merkel has unintentionally taught the world an answer to unfortunate/systemic misogyny and sexism:

Undoubtedly influenced by her Ph.D in quantum chemistry, Merkel scientifically examines the issue at hand, seeks input from a variety of sources, prepares soundly, and announces a reasoned decision. There is no place for high oratory about glass ceilings in a nation that no longer wants oratory and political symbolism/pageantry. Instead her secret is to get the job done and to do it well.

Indeed, good government is good politics.

Dealing with Germany’s past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), the nation now more than ever seeks order (Ordnung).

Merkel does not rattle the collective cages of the Fatherland’s patriarchy. She has been pejoratively labeled “Mutti,” a German diminutive of “mother.” Merkel wears this soft-sounding invective as a badge, once proclaiming that Germany is in good hands (and care) with her leadership.

Despite being labeled as the leader of the Western world, the center-right chancellor wants to work within the framework of the European Union and NATO. Since the founding of the EU, Europe has enjoyed the longest period of sustained peace in the continent’s history.

In her victory speech — that didn’t sound like a victory speech – Merkel said that she will examine why some Germans voted for the AfD, and explore how her CDU/CSU party can appeal to these poor souls.

The immediate task is the formation of a coalition government, most likely a Jamaica coalition that mirrors the colors of the island nation’s flag: CDU/CSU (black); Free Democrats (yellow) and Die Grünen (naturally … green).

After the coalition building process is done, Merkel will go back to systemically addressing issues at home and throughout Europe in her time-tested consensus building approach. There will be no time to talk and muse about her place in history.

And when it comes time for an assessment about “What Happened” during her tenure, Merkel will gladly leave that task to others.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41376577

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/world/europe/germany-election-merkel.html?mcubz=1

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/bundestagswahl-im-sz-liveblog-bundestag-waechst-wohl-um-mindestens-sitze-1.3671253

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/sunday-review/angela-merkel-feminist-germany.html

https://www.economist.com/blogs/kaffeeklatsch/2017/09/next-bundestag

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21728641-assessing-leader-inscrutable-sphinxes-divas-and-queens-how-angela-merkel-changing

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Merkel

Always charming Donald Trump thinks Angela Merkel is “insane.”

In contrast, Time Magazine dubbed Germany’s first Kanzlerin as its “Person of the Year” for 2015.merkelsyrians

Merkel’s polling numbers plummeted from about 75 percent approval just two years ago to below 50 percent now according to ARD Deutschland. Keep in mind, she was even lower in the same survey, touching 40 percent at the nadir of the Euro crisis in 2010. She was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2013.

She has received international accolades for Germany’s Willkommenskultur or opening up Germany’s borders to those fleeing death and persecution in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, she is blamed for threatening the European Union’s Schengen (Treaty) open-borders policy for its member countries.

Merkel has also faced serious questions as to exactly how many refugees can Deutschland reasonably absorb, an 80-million soul country about the size of Ohio. In 2015, Germany accepted 1.1 million, with another 1 million or more projected for this year based on the daily in-flows.

The issue literally exploded on New Year’s Eve in Köln as hundreds of immigrant men, ostensibly celebrating the arrival of 2016, forced women to run a sexual gauntlet as they groped, robbed and even raped. The German public reaction was predictable and enduring.

Does all of the above signal that Germany’s Öffentlickeitsarbeitswunder is over? Or if Germany’s public relations miracle lives on, is Angela Merkel after 11 years in office finally in trouble politically?

The immediate reaction by Almost DailyBrett from nine-time zones to the west is that Germany’s epic comeback from the ashes of World War II and the Holocaust is still intact However, Merkel may indeed be facing the strongest and potentially lethal political headwinds in her tenure as chancellor.

No More Walls

In America, there is the clamor by a noisy type to build a wall on the southern border and to have Mexico pay for it. Sure.

Germany has more than enough experience with Walls, in particular die Berliner Mauer. Nein Danke!

A good reason for Germany’s willingness to “manage” more than 1 million refugees per year steams undoubtedly from a collective guilt originating from World War II and the Holocaust. Germany is still performing penance.germanysatellite

Another is that Merkel is the unofficial titular head of the European Union. If Germany does not shoulder (more than) its fair share of the burden of welcoming and hopefully assimilating literally hundreds or thousands of refugees, then how can Deutschland reasonably expect other European nations to do the same?

There is also the issue that comes with Germany’s hegemony in the European Union. Deutschland wants to be seen as a normal country, but it is still das Land in der Mitte … and more. Germany is the world’s fourth largest economy, prolific exporter and is the home of legendary German engineering.

The problem with size and strength is this combination usually leads to jealousy and demands (see: the United States of America). Germany can never wipe clean the tarnish that comes with Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, the Third Reich and the Holocaust. Ironically, the memories and images of die NS Zeit may have been partially attributable to Merkel’s success as chancellor … her measured “Mutti” consensus-oriented style serves as a partial antidote to these horrific times.

Should She Run Again?

The next federal elections in Germany are due in 2017. By that time, Merkel will have served as chancellor for 12 years, just short of Helmut Kohl’s 16 years and Konrad Adenauer’s 14 years. One of the truisms of politics is that one can overstay her or his welcome in the center ring. With each decision no matter how popular comes disappointment, if not enemies.

How much disappointment (e.g., refugee policy) and how many enemies (e.g., CSU boss and Bavaria premier Horst Seehofer), will she trigger/ or has she triggered during the course of 12 years is the subject of conjecture.

Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Germany’s reunifier Kohl waited too long to exit stage right. Their departures were less-than-celebratory.ursula

Almost DailyBrett does not rule out that Merkel pulling out a Kaninchen out of a Hutte. At the same time, Germany’s first woman Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen is waiting in the wings. Will Merkel want to seed her seat to a fellow CDU minister (assuming the voters go along)?

If so, the Feminization of the Fatherland may produce yet another chapter in Germany’s Public Relations Miracle.

https://www.bundeskanzlerin.de/Webs/BKin/EN/Chancellery/Timeline_Federal_Chancellors_since_1949/timeline_federal_chancellors_since_1949_node.html

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21692916-under-pressure-reverse-her-refugee-policy-angela-merkel-faces-court-case-welcome?zid=307&ah=5e80419d1bc9821ebe173f4f0f060a07

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21688418-ultimate-victim-sexual-assaults-migrants-could-be-angela-merkels-liberal-refugee

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21685512-attacks-women-mobs-young-men-inflame-germanys-refugee-debate-new-year-new-fear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8XUinVkCNk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7vMZYuWCsQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxJvXHu0Xf8

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/germany-from-holocaust-to-normalcy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-katarina-witt-brand-uber-alles/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/feminizing-the-fatherland/

https://www.bundesregierung.de/Webs/Breg/EN/FederalGovernment/Cabinet/UrsulavonderLeyen/_node.html

 

 

 

There was a decade when giants walked.

These were days when governments and societies for the most part worked. These were days when a wall came down, and the guns went silent. These were the days when 19 million jobs were created, the greatest peacetime employment expansion in American history. These were days when just plain living was a “good thing” as Martha would say.G7worldleaders

Almost DailyBrett will never be accused of being warm and fuzzy, romantic or even nostalgic. There is no desire to turn back the clock, but there is an almost daily longing to go Back to the Future (1985 film) and see what we can learn from the 1980s.

The 1980s began with 52 Americans being held hostage in Iran and ended with the Berlin Wall coming down and the successful culmination of the Cold War.

Some closer to home even dared to utter that it was “Morning in America.” Can you imagine saying that today?

There is no such thing as a perfect society and there never will be, but the 1980s gave us a peek into what we can do, if we can compromise, respect other opinions and work together.

“Bygone Bipartisanship”

“Why won’t our leaders work to accommodate each other, employing civility as they cooperate to accomplish goals in the country’s best interests? What in our national character, in the ways we choose to deal with one another and respect different viewpoints, has changed so much since the days of Reagan and O’Neill? How can we win back the faith that our republic is working?” – Chris Matthews, staffer to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill.reagantip

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews wrote his 2013 best seller, “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked” about the relationship between a Republican president and a Democratic speaker of the house that were mirror philosophical opposites of each other, but managed to work together to improve America.

Even with Paul Ryan coming aboard as Speaker of the House are we in any way more confident that Congress and the incumbent president can put together enough votes and good will to do anything other than raising the debt limit to $20 trillion?

Going back to the future, to the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was president, Margaret Thatcher was prime minster, Mikhail Gorbachev was general secretary and Helmut Kohl was Kanzler. Would we trade Barack Obama, David Cameron, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel for their aforementioned predecessors?

Wouldn’t we certainly like to see bare-chested Putin ride his horse into the sunset?

Reading Kohl’s Vom Mauerfall zur Weiderveinigung: Meine Erinnergungen, one is floored by how Kohl drew an inside straight with Gorbachev barely 50 years after Barbarossa commenced and the Panzers roared into Russia.

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and his spouse Raisa and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, have a walk prior to their talks at the resort settlement of Arkhyz on July 16,1990. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Yuri Lizunov and Konstantin Tarusov) Êàðà÷àåâî-×åðêåññêàÿ àâòîíîìíàÿ îáëàñòü. 16 èþëÿ 1990 ãîäà â êóðîðòíîì ïîñåëêå Àðõûç ïðîøëè ïåðåãîâîðû ïðåçèäåíòà ÑÑÑÐ Ìèõàèëà Ñåðãååâè÷à Ãîðáà÷åâà ñ ôåäåðàëüíûì êàíöëåðîì ÔÐà Ãåëüìóòîì Êîëåì. Íà ñíèìêå: Ìèõàèë Ãîðáà÷åâ ñ æåíîé Ðàèñîé Ìàêñèìîâíîé è Ãåëüìóò Êîëü (ñïðàâà) âî âðåìÿ ïðîãóëêè ïåðåä íà÷àëîì ïåðåãîâîðîâ. Ôîòî Þðèÿ Ëèçóíîâà è Êîíñòàíòèíà Òàðóñîâà /Ôîòîõðîíèêà ÒÀÑÑ/.

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and his spouse Raisa and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, have a walk prior to their talks at the resort settlement of Arkhyz on July 16,1990. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Yuri Lizunov and Konstantin Tarusov)

All Kohl wanted to do was reunify Germany, expel Soviet troops from former East Germany, enroll a united Germany in the NATO alliance, integrate Germany into the European Union and maintain a defense force of 370,000. Surprisingly, Gorbachev said “da” as Germany promised to monetarily assist with Russia’s perestroika or restructuring program.

One of the key ingredients for Kohl to secure what he wanted for Germany and his place in history was being able to provide Gorbachev with talking points he could use back home in the Rodina. Imagine putting yourself into the other leader’s shoes and helping her or him make the politically tough, but correct choice? Alas, Gorbachev paid the ultimate political price for his courage.

Can anyone conceivably imagine Putin signing off on any of the above or compromising on anything? Heck, Putin and Merkel won’t even speak the same language to each other when they meet. Courage seems to be in short supply these days (not suggesting that Merkel is a shrinking violet).

Looking back at the 1980s, Americans were notorious ticket splitters and reflecting the national mood, more times than naught they gladly re-elected incumbents. Almost DailyBrett can’t forget how Republican Governor George Deukmejian was re-elected with the greatest landslide in blue California’s history with a 61-37 percent margin in 1986, and Democratic Senator Alan Cranston won re-election by a 49-47 percent count on the very same day.

21st Century Filter Bubbles

Contrast the mood in the country and political climate in the mid-1980s with the widespread vitriol, anxiety and angst that is prevalent at this mid-point of the second decade of the 21st Century.

Many have asked the question, what happened (e.g., Chris Matthews)? The more important question is to ask: What can we collectively do to bring back the optimism and achievements of the 1980s?

Are we turning back the clock as the pessimistic pundits would say or are we applying the digital wizardry of the 21st Century to recapture the optimism and best hopes of a not-too-distant time?DSC01433

As PR practitioners, reputation managers, students of global society do we dare appreciate the other team’s point of view? Can political animals read both Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence and David Axelrod’s Believer and learn something from the two architects of the last four winning presidential campaigns?

Or do we selectively search on Google, Yahoo and Bing for news and information that serves to corroborate our own personal confirmation bias? Some even revert to their crayons, coloring books and play dough when some foreign thought is threatening the filter bubble? Vaccines are really bad; it says so right here on Wikipedia.

Even though the 1980s were not perfect, we know they were a better time, a much better time. Sometimes the best strategy is to take one step back before going two steps forward. Sounds like a tactical retreat, a period of reflection and then moving forward with great vigor to New Frontiers. A little compromise may be in order as well.

Do we have the makings of a 1980s plan?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_to_the_Future

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/12/news/transcript-of-reagan-s-farewell-address-to-american-people.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/books/review/tip-and-the-gipper-by-chris-matthews.html?_r=0

http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/alt-kanzler-auf-der-frankfurter-buchmesse-kohl-praesentiert-sein-neues-altes-buch-vom-mauerfall-zur-wiedervereinigung/10812422.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_election_in_California,_1986

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-latest-ism/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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