“The Broken Jug” is one of the most frequently performed plays in German theater. With the village judge Adam, who passes judgment on a crime he committed himself, Heinrich von Kleist created one of the classic comedic figures of world literature.
US President Barack Obama currently seems to be portraying a modern version of Kleist’s village judge. He is increasingly vocal in his criticism of Europeans for supposedly having exacerbated the ongoing economic crisis with their caution. His audience, however, seems to sense that the plight Obama is lamenting originated in his own country.
Some banks were forced to accept TARP bailout funds even when they didn’t want, or need, the money. Wells Fargo is one such bank reportedly so ordered. The rationale for this was that the more banks who took the bailout lucre, the less stigmatized, or embarrassed, would be the banks who took the money because they really had messed up and “needed” the government handout. Now, with the debt-based monetizing effort in the US having disastrously failed to stimulate our economy, the Obama team is lecturing the Europeans on the proper handling of their debt crisis: print more money, and lend it to the Greeks (and the Italians, the Spanish, and whoever else approaches with their tin cups) for the asking. He’s hoping that with more nations following this US example, the humiliation of the failure will be masked by numbers of others doing the same thing.
Not only are the Europeans having none of this, they’re learning this lesson (though they may end up paying for southern Mediterranean irresponsibility on the backs of honest Germans, Finns, and Slovaks, anyway—responsibility is a hard political sell), and they are growing reluctant to keep the lending fire hose freely spraying. Indeed, as the rest of the Der Spiegel Online article at the link above shows, the European Left simply views Obama with derision. Notice the parallel the European Left draws in Der Spiegel Online‘s choice of parable. The Judge did it, and tried enthusiastically to cover up his role in it by blaming another. And Europeans know that Obama did it, and is now simply trying to cover his tracks, both by blaming others, and by trying to suck yet others into his error.
Like a doctor caught prescribing performance-enhancing drugs, Obama has not chosen to cease his activities. Rather he is trying to ensure that as many people as possible have access to his wares.
All this from the man who wowed the sycophants in Tiergarten Park in 2008 with his lofty phrases of peace and reconciliation. With Obama now the laughing stock of the European Left, his erstwhile overseas base, how much influence can he expect to have for the United States on the world stage? How much influence can we Americans expect our President to have on the world stage?
“The Broken Jug” ends with the judge having been found out and run out of town. Obama has been found out in the US, and he’s being found out in Europe.