I just read Berlingske Tidende’s US correspondent Poul H°i’s latest column about, well I think it’s about Gordon Brown, but H°i believes that he is saying something profound about a number of politicians.
H°i, as far as I can see, doesn’t like Brown and that’s fair enough. We can discuss whether or not Brown should ever have become prime minister – my take on this is that Brown is a competent problem solver and a hopeless mobiliser and, yes, Brown’s ego in all likelihood got the better of him in a situation where he should have resigned along with Tony Blair, opening the road for a line of younger Labour leaders.
Just as an aside: A colleague once pointed out to me that good finance ministers tend to make terrible prime ministers. You are free to add your own thoughts here.
What really annoys me is that H°i presents a number of other politicians and hereby reveals a remarkable ignorance of recent European politics. But let us take his cases one by one.
George W. Bush. Correct: This man should never have been allowed anywhere near an executive office, not even in a state the size of Luxembourg. Jacob Weisberg in The Bush Tragedy actually does a nice job in trying to unravel the enigma within the riddle which is Baby Bush. But remember: Baby Bush was actually re-elected by the US electorate in 2004 and that is the really scary bit.
Jacques Chirac. Correct. Chirac is the prime example of someone running for office without having the slightest idea about why. A closed circuit elite system gone totally wrong.
Anker J°rgensen. Actually, J°rgensen didn’t seek office, he was shunted into it by his predecessor Jens Otto Krag. Or if you will: Krag wasn’t forced out of office. He left of his own free will.
I think most political historians will agree that J°rgensen’s performance as Danish prime minister was one of the least impressive during the 20th century, but that he stayed in office for nearly ten years was not just an ego thing. The paralysis of Danish economic policy also had to do with external factors and the struggle between a radicalised trade union movement and the Social Democratic party as well as the disintegration of the Danish party system.
Gerhard Schr÷der. Excuse me? Excuse me?? Nothing happened in Germany during his terms in office? Brother, what planet were you on during those years? The Wikipedia shouldn’t be your sole source of information but just take a look at the policy reforms listed in the German entry about Schr÷der. Helmut Kohl’s last term as Chancellor was a mistake and he should have retired in 1993 or 1996 to make way for younger politicians but surely Schr÷der cannot be faulted for that. And we may also ask: Was Schr÷der a less competent Chancellor than Rudolf Scharping might have been. An interesting question, but I’m not sure the answer is yes. That the German Social Democrats have a tendency to self-destruct is another issue.
Sorry – I just had to let out steam. H°i’s article doesn’t make any sense and an editor worth his or her money should have asked him to come up with some better cases.