A Comeback for Guttenberg?
Amid the brouhaha of Bavaria’s Christian Socialist Party’s annual conference, csu leader Horst Seehofer has called for the return to high office of Baron Karl Theodore zu Guttenberg.
Having voluntarily resigned from politics in the wake of a left-wing attack on his academic credibility, Guttenberg moved to Connecticut, accepting a post with Neelie Kroes, EU commissioner for Digital Agenda, in addition to joining a U.S.-based international think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, under the title of “distinguished statesman.”
Both posts have served Guttenberg well, keeping his hand in on developments on the international scene as he bided his time, awaiting such a moment as now being presented by his party boss, Seehofer.
Focus broke the news of a Guttenberg comeback in the early hours of Saturday morning. By the afternoon, every major German news source had jumped on the story.
And no wonder.
German politics has fallen into disarray in the wake of party differences on how to tackle the ongoing euro crisis. Chancellor Merkel only survives because no credible alternative leader is seen on the horizon in Germany. The Germans are getting restless, and as that old observer of European affairs, Luigi Barzini once observed, when the Germans get restless, they tend to get dangerous. In their restlessness they have too often sought out a charismatic leader to their own national detriment.
Bild am Sonntag spoke of the unofficial announcement of an attempt to invite Guttenberg back into a prominent role in csu politics as Seehofer’s “most important message”: “But the most important message, Seehofer chose to announce not at the podium but on the edge of the Congress, declaring that after the elections in 2013 he wanted to get the former defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, back into active politics.” The paper quoted the party boss as saying, “When the election is over, we will see how we can integrate Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg into a key function again in the csu” (October 20).
Germany is crying out for a decisive leader to give the nation hope. The people see their hard-won and substantial economic rewards at great risk of loss because of a prospective collapse of the euro dream. Seehofer is reading the scene well. The timing could not be better.
As Focus reported: “csu leader Horst Seehofer wants to bring back the former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg after the elections in 2013.” It quoted Seehofer saying, “After the election, I will try it.” Focus further observed, “Seehofer’s idea also is that Guttenberg does not have to start all over again. The former minister should take a ‘significant’ job, Seehofer said.
“The csu chief had said on several occasions that he would like to get Guttenberg back, but so far still has not mentioned a date. He hopes Guttenberg should actually want to come back, but he has no electoral mandate, because he is not a candidate in the general election in 2013. It remains open just what Seehofer thinks of as a major role for Guttenberg.”
There are two points of interest here. One is that lacking an electoral mandate places Guttenberg in the position of being open for invitation to take up political office. A valid comparison would be with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who though lacking any clear political mandate for the role, was invited to take up Italy’s chief political office.
Second is that with Guttenberg keeping a toe in the water both sides of the Atlantic in his two current advisory positions, he has been able to continue to hone his foreign-policy skills.
Having previously been regarded as csu spokesman on foreign affairs, and with the added value of having held two senior portfolios in the Merkel government in the past (economics minister and minister for defense), it is not such a long shot to see Guttenberg—once Germany’s most popular politician—possibly replacing its currently most unpopular minister, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, in the German cabinet in the future. Germany’s foreign minister traditionally also holds the post of deputy chancellor, just one step away from national leadership.
Handelsblatt reported that the csu has rebounded to a position of political strength once again. It is regarded as the sister party to the cdu, Germany’s most dominant political party. All things remaining as they are at present—which is, admittedly, a lot to assume in German politics in a time of crisis—a strong csu would be in a powerful position to influence cabinet appointments after the 2013 elections.
In the meantime, certain respectable voices are even expressing the hope that Guttenberg will be returned in time for the 2013 elections.
“[F]ormer csu chief Erwin Huber makes no bones about it. He would want Guttenberg as a candidate for the federal election already in 2013. He should stand as a candidate, for real candidates do not exist in Guttenberg’s home constituency, no candidate is on the list for that constituency, Huber told Focus Online. ‘I always thought Guttenberg is a political natural and should remain in politics in Germany,’ Huber added. ‘We have few who accepted foreign policy so passionately. Karl-Theodor could fill a gap within the external competence of the Union parties well’” (October 20).
During the years of post-war reconstruction, General Montgomery observed the need to “change the heart and the way of life of the German people.” He spoke in the immediate wake of World War ii, declaring that the Germany that emerged from 13 years of Nazism was a nation where “the authority of the family had been minimized, the influence of the church reduced, and the power of the state increased” (The Memoirs of Montgomery of Alamein).
Today’s Germany has witnessed the authority of the family reduced in the wake of the rampant liberal rationalism and homosexualization within its society. The impact of its traditional moral bastion, the church, has been reduced by theological rationalism, and the power of the state has increased massively under the auspices of the European Union. On top of all that, Germans are beginning to worry that the eurocrisis will sap the energy of their highly successful economy, with resultant loss of the good life they have enjoyed for so long.
This is not a formula for a stable German democracy. The danger is that, as Montgomery noted, unless such drift is arrested, “The Germans would merely look to the past and be ready to follow any [charismatic] leader who might arise.”
In fact, biblical prophecy foretells of this situation arising just one more time in Daniel 8 and 11.
Gainsayers to the contrary, we have continually said, “Watch Guttenberg.” Indications are that we may not have to wait much longer to see a triumphant return to high political office for Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, baron of the Holy Roman Empire.