Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Bush’s legacy of inappropriateness: the neck rub of German Chancellor Angela Merkel

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Originally published on on Wed, 06/11/2008 – 8:39am

One of the most embarrassing moments in Bush’s reign.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with George W. Bush this week as part of his farewell tour. And of all the world leaders that has had to deal with Bush in the last 7 years, Merkel must have had the biggest smile right now on the inside.

After all, it’s highly unlikely Bush will travel to Germany after January 20, 2009. His lack of interest or curiosity won’t take him far, much less to Germany. And if Merkel travels to the United States, she certainly doesn’t have to make any contact with Bush on U.S. soil.

So this may be the last time Merkel ever sees Bush. And she is glad for one simple reason: no more neck rubs.

It’s difficult to say which was the most embarrassing moment of the George W. Bush era. It’s like trying to pick a favorite steak at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse. But in my eyes, one of the top three, if not number one, was the neck rub of Merkel.

As an American and a man, I was horrified at what Bush did. There isn’t anything wrong with a neck rub among two friends in a consenting manner. But words can’t grasp the total inappropriateness of what Bush did to Merkel. To her credit, Merkel handled it well, escaping the move by, in the words of Jon Stewart, “using a move she learned in date rape prevention class.”

There are a lot of ignorance and prejudice that women have to deal with to rise to the level of power of running a country. You get there, and then you have to deal with a leader with a “frat-boy” mentality who decides that you’re too tense and you need a neck rub – at a G-8 summit with cameras rolling.

I was thinking about this when I saw a lecture last night on the Social Dimension of Climate Change by former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell. Campbell is the only female Canadian PM and also served as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Minister of Justice, Attorney General, and the first female Minister of National Defence.

She has a rather impressive resume of experience. She had earned her way as a leader. There is no reason Campbell or Merkel or any other female leader should be reduced to the level of a co-ed at a frat party.

There is a lot of damage to clean up around the world. Some areas are obvious (diplomacy, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Afghanistan). As Americans, we tend to have limited memories of horrible incidents that don’t happen to us. But the rest of the world has much longer and stronger memories. The next U.S. president has a lot to do, including a deep, deep apology to Merkel.


Written by democracysoup

June 11, 2008 at 8:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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