Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Obituary on America


Yesterday night Red Baron went to a reading of and a talk with Klaus Brinkbäumer, former editor in chief of the renowned magazine Der Spiegel. As you may imagine - even though people had to pay an entrance fee - the auditorium was fully packed with listeners eager to learn whether America will become great again and that in spite of the dark title of Brinkbäumer’s thick book: Nachruf auf Amerika.

In her usual competent and charming way, Friederike Schulte, director of the Carl-Schurz-Haus, introduced the speaker who had spent many years of his career as a journalist in New York traveling the States as correspondent of Der Spiegel.

To whet the appetite of the auditorium Brinkhäuser started by mentioning that he had interviewed Donald Trump at his NY Tower in 2004 but the outcome of the meeting had been so meager that he renounced to write an article about the real estate mogul. Then suddenly in 2008 Brinkbäumers telephone rang and Trump was on the other end of the line. He wanted to speak to the young journalist hopeful from Germany.

This second story actually was Brinkhäuser‘s beginning of his reading but then he continued going into the differences and similarities between the German and English language citing well-known examples of the wrong use of English words in German as there are the public viewing for watching television in a group or body bag for a lady's purse.  He stretched Mark Twain’s complaint about the terrible German language and read about neologisms like Handy in German for a cell phone. According to him, Wellness is a German neologism too, i.e., a short form of "well being" and "fitness".

By that time some unrest had developed within the audience. Suddenly a distinguished lady got hold of a microphone and told the speaker - as only a distinguished lady can do - that she knew the States well and in coming here had expected to be informed about the aftermath of the midterm elections.

Suddenly both reading and the talk were forgotten and the speaker and his audience entered into a lively discussion. While Brinkbāumer mentioned that Hillary‘s flying over Wisconsin had been a big mistake* I could get my message in that Madison was Freiburg‘s sister city and that Wisconsin now has a Democrat governor.
*Red Baron still remembers, watching television in the early morning hours (CET) on November 9, 2016, when the results of Wisconsin finally tipped the balance in favor of Donald Trump.

In his answers to the questions from the audience, Brinkbāumer often remained vague and imprecise. When he said that Trump‘s tax reform privileged the already rich so they may consume even more he forgot to tell that above all the reform lowered the US corporate tax inviting American firms to repatriate jobs and money.

 I said that the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller by Jeff Sessions‘s successor Matthew Whitaker would disturb the US system of checks and balances or - as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put it - even evoke a major constitutional crisis. When Brinkbäumer answered that the firing of Mueller was not excluded but in view of the consequences rather unlikely I, like Faust‘s famulus, was no wiser than before.

Somewhat disappointed I left the auditorium.

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