Dawn's Early Light must confess that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's first diplomatic outing with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was not reminiscent of Bismarck [See DEL post "Germany's Angela Merkel the Next Bismarck?"]. I am not ready yet to concede the field on the future ability of the German Chancellor, but I feel I must point to this Financial Times article (which is one of many similar stories).
"Angela Merkel and Condoleezza Rice were doing a good job of healing the rift between Germany and the US last Tuesday, until Germany’s new chancellor made a serious diplomatic gaffe.
The US secretary of state had admitted the kidnap of a German citizen by the American security services was a mistake, Ms Merkel said. As soon as the press conference was over US officials denied Ms Rice has said any such thing."
The European press jumped on this story and played it up, giving it plenty of attention. However, it was a major meeting between the US and Germany and an opportunity to repair the relationship in a post-Schroeder environment. Ms. Merkel flubbed this chance. The FT continues:
"Did the chancellor intend to embarrass her guest by betraying her private confession? Was she lying? Had she unwittingly disclosed confidential information? Or was it just a slip of the tongue?
To Berlin veterans, the incident had a familiar feel. Ms Merkel has forged an unenviable reputation as an inept speaker in her 15-year political career. She is prone to lapsus linguae and not everything she says always makes sense.
Her electoral campaign last summer was peppered with blunders."
It is true that Ms. Merkel handed back to her SDP opponents much of the initial support she had going into the final voting. It is clearly a black eye for Ms. Merkel, but I am guardedly optimistic that positive change is still in the air.