Sigmar Gabriel has an unmistakable instinct for mood and current events.
In past years, he has handled things responsibly by instinct.
On the topic of German anti-Islam movement Pegida, on the other hand, the vice chancellor has gotten off on the wrong track. He may run into trouble within his own Social Democrat party as a result.
In the past, when Mr. Gabriel still had a reputation as a political rogue, he simply jumped on every train. Populist to the edge of what was considered tolerable, the Social Democrat managed media with bold theories and nice-sounding but empty rhetoric.
He usually performed skillfully at exactly the right moment.
With age and experience, he became more mature.
He learned to hold back. Since Mr. Gabriel became vice chancellor and economics minister in 2013 in coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, he has no longer dived into every debate and has given fewer interviews. That has been good for him and his party.