Thursday, 6 August 2009

Push On Frank-Walter Steinmeier

There's a song by the Pace-Setters that always makes me smile: Push On Jesse Jackson. I suppose because the image of Jesse Jackson in my mind's eye is the older man, the paunchy politician rather than the sideburned civil rights man, and that just doesn't tie in with funk.

Germany's writers have always been very forward about their political views - in the past couple of months alone, I've heard Günter Grass' and Ingo Schulze's views on the upcoming election and what went wrong with reunification at their readings, for example. Now there's a new initiative out there, harnessing the power of (Berlin's) culture vultures to push on Frank-Walter Steinmeyer as the SPD's candidate for chancellor in the upcoming elections.

You can watch videos of the dramatist Moritz Rinke and top novelist Julia Franck talking about why good old Frank is the right man for the job - he gave Moritz a lift home, and he likes poems. As you can imagine, the press have poured scorn upon them. My favourite excruciatingly embarrassing contribution, though, comes from the country-punk band The Boss Hoss, who look uncomfortable, drink beer and display their tattoos while they talk about how you should vote for Steinmeyer because he's kinda cool. When one of them suggests that he could join them on stage - just for a couple of numbers - the rest of them start looking even more nervous.

No mention, strangely, of the accusations against good old Frank concerning Murat Kurnaz's prolonged imprisonment in Guantanamo. And no funky theme song as yet either. Perhaps they could get Grass to write the lyrics, and I'm sure Tim Renner would produce it.

Update: An announcement on Julia Franck's website tells us:

Various media have written that Julia Franck had expressed public support for the SPD's candidate for chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the election campaign. These reports are false - the author has neither been involved in party politics in the past, nor will she do so in future.

And the strange thing is, the video I linked to above is no longer available. It did exist, I promise, but it seems we all interpreted it wrongly. Franck was merely informing us that Steinmeier appreciates poetry, not advising us to vote for him. As I recall, she didn't in fact say "vote for him", more like "he's the right man". Which we then all took - in the context of the website - as meaning "the right man for the job of running Germany". Which just goes to show, doesn't it? So folks, next time you're doing an interview for a website named "Steinmeier for chancellor", remember to choose your words carefully in case anyone thinks you might be actually advocating him.

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