Friday, September 20, 2002

"It's Morning in Deutschland"

By now all, like most Americans, I have internalized the myth that political discourse in the United States, especially during an election campaign, is nothing more than vacuous ranting and gauzy feel good images without any reference to policies or matters of substance.

Not like in Europe where they campaign on the issues.

Well that was until I took a look at some the political advertisements currently running on German television during the campaign.

They can be found here and are organized by political party. They are, of course, in German . . . but it doesn't really matter as there is surprisingly little dialogue. Just gauzy feel good images.

An excellent analysis of all of these spots can be found on Rewired.

The Social Democrats begin with a nasty ad attack the likes of which would never be aired in the U.S. It shows 1950s era German housewives cheerfully doing chores and ends with a tag line “Welcome to Stoiber’s Future” or something like that.

The other SDP ad is an innocuous montage of images of Gerhard Schroeder working and leading German to a brighter future.

The Christian Democrats, who have an excellent issue to run on -- Schroeder’s promise to reduce unemployment -- has produced an ad that at least mentions this but then dissolves into fuzzy warm images with a cameo by the stiff and unappealing candidate himself.

The Free Democrats have a spot that looks indistinguishable from an IBM commercial.

The Greens run two spots featuring Joschka Fischer making funny faces.

The Party for Democratic Socialism. or the contrite Communists, has a black and white spot that seems to romanticize the old East Germany.

So much for substance.

These commercials make Reagan’s “Morning in America” spots look like public service announcements. No mention of policies, or proposals, no problems or solutions. Just Joschka doing a fairly good Soupy Sales imitation.

One silver lining: The more I think about this the better I feel about Germany sitting in a corner while the mature nations of the world sort out some serious global issues.

After all, a global war without German participation can't be all bad.

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