Why was Steinmeier allowed to laugh, but Laschet wasn’t?

WWhy wasn’t Laschet allowed to laugh, but Steinmeier could? Well, of course everyone can laugh where and how they want. But the price is very different. Armin Laschets Lacher is well known. When asked about his biggest mistake in the election campaign, the chancellor candidate himself mentioned laughter in the flood zone in an interview with this newspaper.

Reinhard Muller

Responsible editor for “Current Affairs” and FAZ Einspruch, responsible for “State and Law”.

And indeed: the picture, the short film went halfway around the world. Laschet with entourage, but not everyone laughs, and in the group of politicians from the region, as he doubles with laughter. The tenor was clear: embarrassing, the Union politician who wants to become Chancellor does not know how to behave, especially in a disaster area. Unprofessional, as it must have been clear to everyone that cameras were also aimed at the candidate. A mockery of the victims. Very few experienced disaster fighters interjected that such reactions among aid workers were not exactly unnatural. Good, but a candidate for chancellor has to stand up!

Laschet couldn’t do anything right

But why did hardly anyone talk about Steinmeier’s laugh? An often heard argument: Laschet was running for the most important office at the time, Steinmeier was already in office. True – but Steinmeier is head of state. His office is downright that of the dignitary and attorney par excellence. Its main task is representation. The fact that he, who represents Germany, now in exactly the same position as Laschet, even in conversation with the same local politician, did not bend over but laughed heartily, should at least provoke as much outrage – especially since Steinmeier was also in the election campaign: in his own around the second term.

But nothing of the sort. All pipes on Laschet. It is not the action or the mishap that counts, but whoever steps into the fat bowl, his standing, the current media value, of course his reaction, his dealings with, his public relations work.

What really counts: the main thing is that it is well packaged


What really counts: the main thing is that it is well packaged
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Image: dpa

Laschet did a few things wrong – but in the eyes of many, he couldn’t do anything right either. Unlike the Steinmeier, who was already floating above the waters qua office, but also different from Olaf Scholz. Everything that would have stuck to Laschet for ages ran off him. The cum-ex affair is just one example of this: when asked during the election campaign, when he was asked when he had realized that this type of business was illegal, he told this newspaper: Always. And when asked about his memory gaps regarding conversations with bankers on this matter, he replied that the questioner could not remember all possible conversations in the past either.

True, but very few have staffs and protocols available with which one can – and must be able to – refresh one’s memory. And whatever you think of the search of the Scholz Ministry by the public prosecutor: Hardly anyone else would have survived it so unscathed. The explanation here too: It depends on the person. And you can’t go against a mood of change.

Merkel did not drill that deep

A lot also bounced off Angela Merkel. Of course, she was also deeply hit. Criticism of her was certainly not spared. What remains remarkable, however, is the often consistently expressed respect for her scandal-free life, her unpretentious, modest manner. Everything is correct, but also not quite: Was it possible that she was not drilled as deeply with her as with others? Sure, she didn’t let anyone into her private rooms, and that’s one of the reasons why she was able to defend her sphere. In addition, her closest entourage kept tight. Almost nothing, and certainly nothing substantial, leaked out through their closest environment; From now on, her two most important employees will also accompany her in her retirement.

Modest, unpretentious? Definitely in appearance, but not in the sense that even their appearance, their perception in public would have been irrelevant. But on the contrary. As sovereign as she was and appeared to be, she was so interested in whether someone wrote something about her that was written about her; she called occasionally when she thought she discovered small mistakes. An excellent public relations worker. Of course not in the sense of classic PR for any kind of project. Merkel didn’t have any. But without being accused of acting: she knew what counted. If she pours coffee to journalists in person, then that is more effective than a thousand speeches and messages.

Merkel also managed to ensure that her life in the GDR, which was by no means short, was not discussed particularly broadly. Some inconsistencies about system closeness, which, viewed in the light of day, cannot be blamed for anyone, but which she could not or did not want to clear up herself, would have been brought to the fore with others.

In the end, Angela Merkel was particularly piqued that she was once referred to as a semi-skilled Federal German: If you deduct the arrogance that is expressed in such a formulation: like so many, she was always German, but not a trained Federal German because she did not spend many years in the Federal Republic of Germany and therefore did not know, and could not know, its customs and “codes”. But if a characteristic of the “Wessis” is self-portrayal – Merkel was able to more than keep up in her very own way.

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