Whether it’s about scrunchies, the “thin-skinned“ President Putin or the delicate issue of the NSA, Hillary Clinton counters every question of Günther Jauch. It is not difficult for her.
For one moment Günther Jauch had succeeded: His counterpart is rattled. The moderator ingenuously looked at Hillary Clinton and asked what she thought of his suite and hairstyle. Were his glasses even still modern? The American laughed with irritation and then said that the German talk show host could surely still refine himself in this regard.
These debates followed her when she was Obama’s secretary of state.
When she was searching for a title for her book that she is currently promoting in Germany about those years as America’s head diplomat, she found the following suggestion: “The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 Countries and It’s Still All About my Hair.” That’s what is in the author’s note in “Hard Choices” and Jauch is alluding to it.
Margot Käßmann and Ursula von der Leyen also confirm that women in top offices are still too often judged by their outfit and appearance. The former bishop of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover in Germany and the Minister of Defense are supposed to speak to Clinton about “women in power” as well as German-American relations, yet they seem pale next to Clinton who is considered the favorite as a successor to Barack Obama and could be elected to be the first female U.S. President.
It is understandable that Günther Jauch focuses on the world-famous guest, but after the nice opening question about his hairstyle, Jauch doesn’t again succeed in catching Hillary Clinton off-guard. The hope quickly fades that the moderator can put trivial matters behind to pursue subtleties. Jauch’s concern that he will not be able to read all the prepared questions on his cards seems continually greater than the desire to lure the 66 year old away from more than prepared sound bites (the Americans call them talking points). She gladly admits that she identifies herself as a feminist, saying, “I want daughters to have the same opportunities as sons.”
In the matter of the possible U.S. spy in the Federal Intelligence Service that is presently enraging federal president Joachim Gauck, Clinton retreats to the position that she doesn’t know the “facts” and therefore cannon draw any conclusions. Everything must be examined and subsequently debated in a dialogue between Washington and Berlin, the Democrat emphasized.
This argument has some merit because Clinton has not been a member of the U.S. government since the beginning of 2013. Yet, Jauch’s question about the NSA scandal and the handling of whistleblower Edward Snowden are at best practiced. Couldn’t she have known about the tapped cell phone of the chancellor? No, she and Obama didn’t know and the president has ordered the end of the surveillance. Why are friendly nations even being spied upon? This is necessary after 9/11 and after all, several of the assassins lived in Hamburg and planned the attacks from there. And today, the world has not gotten safer and terrorists continue to be active—for example, in Syria.
Clinton assures that Obama’s government is working on reforms and wants stricter controls on the intelligence agencies. And she will tell the president (“We are good friends.”) and her successor John Kerry how seriously the German take the topic “protection of privacy” on account of their history. Inquiries of the moderator? Wrong!
Margot Käßmann, seldom at a loss for clear opinions, doesn’t want to answer the question of whether Edward Snowden is a “hero or traitor”: “That is too banal.” Clinton, who takes only 1.5 out of almost 900 pages in her book, repeats the arguments of the Obama administration: She expresses wonder that Snowden has fled to China and Russia where freedom of opinion is suppressed. Snowden had all kinds of opportunities to call attention to the abuses internally – and naturally he has the right to return to the U.S., but then he would have to stand trial.
Putin Instead of NSA
In vain, the viewer hopes that Jauch will not be satisfied with that. One would very much like to hear how Clinton would react to the inquiry of why Obama, who studied as a constitutional lawyer, would persecute whistleblowers in such a draconian manner on the basis of a 97-year-old law – and what she has to say on this matter as an ex-member of this government. Or how she would respond to a video clip illuminating the cases other whistleblowers like Thomas Drake or Jesselyn Radack. Because it would then be clear that the “official” path is next to impossible for employees of the intelligence agencies.
To be sure, Clinton has been asked these questions previously, but her reaction would have been interesting for the German people. And it would have fit the topic of the program that wanted to shed light on how women handle their power. Von der Leyen speaks of the “female chancellor” having a “different view” of politics – but she doesn’t explain this difference and Jauch doesn’t ask about it. Instead, von der Leyen is allowed to compete with Clinton for who most often showed herself to be a Merkel fan (the German won). And then because shirtless pictures of the super-macho Vladimir Putin are shown again, Clinton is asked to speak about her experiences with Russia’s president.
That he [Putin] recently called her “weak” didn’t surprise her. Putin may be very decisive, but is also “thin-skinned.” His most important goal is the reestablish the greatness of Russia and with this thinking and his autocratic methods he doesn’t fit in the 21st century. Europe and the U.S. must together show toughness and implement sanctions so that Putin backs down and the Ukraine can develop in the direction of democracy.
An Infratest survey Jauch had prepared shows just how damaged German-American relations are. While 66 percent of German consider the U.S. to be progressive according to the survey, seven out of ten German citizens perceive Washington to be power-hungry and only 27 percent still classify the U.S. as trustworthy. Optimist Hillary Rodham Clinton is not disturbed that these numbers will sink further after the exposure of the mole in the BND [German foreign intelligence agency]: “That is disappointing, but we are working on improving the relations.”
In the last ten minutes, Jauch has to work through still further questions, many of which were already posed to Clinton Sunday morning in the Schiller Theater. Jauch wants to know how she reacted to the article recently published by her husband’s ex-lover Monica Lewinsky. According to Clinton, it doesn’t interest her; she has moved on and she has forgiven.
For his curiosity, the moderator is scolded by his German guests: It is no longer necessary to ask about that. Jauch’s dutiful indication that this very well would be a topic in the long and hard American election campaign is countered skillfully by Käßmann and von der Leyen: “But we are in Germany here.”
Candidate for U.S. Presidency 2016: Bush vs. Clinton once again?
To the question of whether she will run again in 2016, Clinton gives her stock answer: She’s looking forward to soon being a grandmother and wants to enjoy this first. When the congressional elections are over in November, then she wants to assess what the decision would mean for her and her family. “At the end of this year or the beginning of next year I will announce.”
The broadcast that began with formalities and never wanted to get into depth then ends with minor matters. Hillary Clinton, who, by the way wore a bright blue pant suit, looked at a photo from 2003 in amusement: Exactly eleven years ago she sat in the studio with Sabine Christiansen – next to then opposition leader Angela Merkel.
And he who visibly longs for the summer break is interested in yet one more thing: Who should play her in the planned film about the Clinton family. Hillary Clinton, who was the boss in the studio this evening, says she hopes Meryl Streep will take on this role. Her reason shows that this woman is thinking in a completely different dimension than her host: “Meryl Streep is the best actress in the world.”
Anything less would not make a Hillary Clinton.