Morning Briefing

Testing the French Connection

In a TV debate that lasted more than three hours and ended after midnight, French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was able to bruise but not vanquish his opponent, right-wing populist Marine Le Pen. She was aggressive, he was sympathetic. She scored points with nationalist broadsides and anti-Angela Merkel rhetoric; he defended Europe and even Merkel’s open-door refugee policies. Now it’s up to the French to decide how reasonable they want to be. Macron stands for France staying in Europe; Le Pen stands for a Frexit.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past,ˮ wrote U.S. novelist and Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner. These days, Germany’s Social Democratic Party is living proof. The party’s 100-percent nomination of a candidate whose only concrete campaign promise is to roll back the SPD’s biggest legislative achievement in recent memory – its Agenda 2010 welfare reform – smacks of nostalgia, not a wish to move forward. If those basking in the glow of Martin Schulz’ halo could choose a Beatles tune to capture their candidate’s message, it wouldn’t be “Revolutionˮ but “Yesterday.ˮ

“My statement that Turkey must stop with these Nazi comparisons is still valid,ˮ Merkel said yesterday at Cebit, Europe’s largest tech fair in Hanover. But the problem with the chancellor’s remark about Recep Tayyip Erdogan is it’s not valid for Turkey. That’s not Merkel’s fault, but it could end up being her fate. The head of German government isn’t just paid for her words, but her effectiveness. Seen that way, Erdogan isn’t criticizing Merkel, he’s simply ignoring her.

FBI Director James Comey has apparently rejected Donald Trump’s assertion that Barack Obama bugged his political campaign. “I have no information that supports these Tweets,ˮ Mr. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. Normally, this would mean the U.S. president is lying. But in the Trump era, other rules are at work. Trump isn’t consciously trying to trick the public; he’s just putting his surreal character regularly on display for all to see. German novelist Botho Strauss wasn’t writing about Trump, but might well have been, in his work “Oniritti Höhlenbilder:ˮ

“I couldn’t even catch him in a lie as I stared into the complex, well-oiled inner workings of his mendacity, into the abyss of his twisted reasoning. How could I say: This man is not telling the truth? When his whole existence, everything he says and does, is the opposite of truth, including even his lies.ˮ
BMW CEO Harald Krüger today presented the luxury automaker’s 2016 financial results – and what a turbo-charged triumph that was. Never before has BMW sold so many autos – 2.4 million. Never before has BMW earned so much – €6.9 billion, up 8 percent from 2015. Krüger shouldn’t waste time worrying that Daimler’s Mercedes came out ahead in sales and profit. Customers love cars, not balance sheets. The driver on the street likes BMW for its design and pizazz, not its EBITDA.

 

Image of the Day

merkel and abe and intel drone dpa
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe examine a drone during their opening walkabout at the CeBIT computing trade fair in Hanover, Germany. Japan is this year's partner country at the fair. Source: DPA
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