clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Backlash grows against Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande leave after a press conference at the Elysée Palace on July 06, 2015, in Paris, France.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande leave after a press conference at the Elysée Palace on July 06, 2015, in Paris, France.
Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

The focus of the financial world shifts from Athens to Brussels today, as eurozone officials are holding an emergency meeting to discuss what to do in the aftermath of Sunday's Greek rejection of a bailout package. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is warning not to expect a quick deal.

Perhaps the most interesting repercussion so far is the invigoration of Germany's critics across the continent. Where pressure had been mounting on Greece to accept the terms of the bailout before Sunday's vote, it's now turning on Germany to soften its hard line.

The countries with more fragile economies are sounding emboldened in the wake of Greece's repudiation of Germany's bailout terms, according to the Wall Street Journal's Anton Troianovski.

Ms. Merkel’s power after a decade in office has become seemingly untouchable, both within Germany and across Europe. But with the "no" vote in Sunday’s Greek referendum on bailout terms posing the biggest challenge yet to decades of European integration, risks to the European project resulting from Germany’s rise as the Continent’s most powerful country are becoming clear.

On Friday, Spanish antiausterity leader Pablo Iglesias urged his countrymen: "We don’t want to be a German colony." On Sunday, after Greece’s result became clear, Italian populist Beppe Grillo said, "Now Merkel and bankers will have food for thought." On Monday, Ms. Merkel flew to Paris for crisis talks amid signs the French government was resisting Berlin’s hard line on Greece. ... Senior German officials, in private moments, marvel at the fact that their country, despite its weak military and inward-looking public, now has a greater impact on most European policy debates than Britain or France, and appears to wield more global influence that at any other time since World War II.

This suggests two things: European officials want to see a resolution to the crisis as soon as possible — whether the terms are more favorable to creditors or to Greece — and Germany's power is genuinely unnerving to some of its European partners.

They may have an appreciation for history: A strong, unified Germany has not always been good for the rest of the continent.

1) No deal imminent on less-spartan terms for Greece

A beach towel depicting a €500 note is on display outside a shop in Athens, Greece, July 7.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Juncker said today it may take a while for Greece and its potential creditors to come to an agreement about how to move forward following Sunday's rejection of a relief package, according to the Associated Press. And, even though controversial Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned yesterday, Juncker showed some irritation at the way the commission has been portrayed by Greek officials. From the AP, which is live-blogging the crisis:

Juncker has tempered expectations of a swift solution to the Greek crisis, saying "a solution is not going to appear overnight." ... He said one of the purposes later is to "restore order to the situation." He also displayed his anger at attacks on the European Union's executive branch. "I think it is unacceptable for the European Commission to be deemed terrorists by the Greek government," he added.

2) Nuclear negotiators blowing through another deadline

It looks like the P5+1 discussions aren't much closer to yielding a deal to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for curtailing its nuclear program. A self-imposed deadline of midnight tonight probably isn't the real drop-dead moment. Dennis Ross, a longtime Middle East negotiator, writes in Politico Europe that the dates don't matter as much as the substance, and that the US should take a harder line.

The Obama administration should make clear that it is prepared to conclude a deal at any time, provided it is fully consistent with the framework understanding from April; anything less, and there will be no deal. If the Iranians insist on trying to walk back or redefine the framework understanding, they will not only stretch out the negotiations but will lead us to harden our own position and impose new conditions.

This is a key point to remember: It's Iran that needs sanctions relaxed. That gives the US leverage. So, too, does the threat of increased economic penalties or the use of military force to get Iran to stand down from developing a nuclear weapon.

3) Obama: We're winning against Islamic State

President Barack Obama went to the Pentagon yesterday to get a briefing on the US campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He came out sounding confident about the situation, but didn't provide much in the way of new details about the US strategy. Of course, it would be alarming if he did not sound confident and surprising if he'd broken big news. Gordon Lubold and Carol E. Lee of the Wall Street Journal describe the scene at the Pentagon.

Flanked by his top commanders, Mr. Obama addressed persistent criticism and described how his approach of combining U.S. and allied air power with local ground forces has led to defeats of Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, across Iraq and Syria. "In short, ISIL’s recent losses in both Syria and Iraq prove that ISIL can and will be defeated," Mr. Obama told reporters at the Pentagon after a briefing from top commanders on the military’s progress. …

Mr. Obama voiced confidence in the military strategy in Iraq and Syria even as critics lamented that the approach hasn’t translated to a changed dynamic on the ground. "A speech isn’t a strategy," said Cory Fritz, press secretary for House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) after Mr. Obama’s remarks.

4) Scott Walker is outnumbered on same-sex marriage — in his own house

Scott Walker speaks during the Western Conservative Summit at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado, on June 27, 2015.

Theo Stroomer/Getty Images

It took a little while, but this same-sex marriage nugget in Mary Jordan's Washington Post profile of Wisconsin Gov. and presidential candidate Scott Walker's wife, Tonette, is getting a lot of attention in both conservative and liberal circles.

In the political world, Walker drew immediate scrutiny for being particularly strident. In their house, Tonette Walker heard immediately about her husband’s response from the couple’s two sons, Matt and Alex, who are taking time off from college to help their father’s campaign. She told them to talk directly to him. "That was a hard one," Tonette said, pausing and choosing her words carefully. "Our sons were disappointed. ... I was torn. I have children who are very passionate [in favor of same-sex marriage], and Scott was on his side very passionate."

Matt K. Lewis, a senior contributor at the Daily Caller, said it could be a case of a little relatively meaningless daylight between a candidate and his wife — or it could be a signal Walker's trying to send to moderates in the party that his hard-line stance on social issues isn't sacrosanct. Either way, it's troubling for social conservatives, he writes.

Regardless, for social conservatives who already feel like they’re on the ropes, this revelation is even more serious than you might think. For obvious reasons, social conservative leaders have little interest in alienating Walker, but even before this most recent interview came out, one leading socon told me his rule of thumb for evaluating candidates: The trick is to always look at the wife when gauging whether or not a male politician will hold true to his stated social values.

5) The great white hype? Minorities aren't fueling Sanders surge.

Josh Kraushaar at National Journal identifies the big problem for Bernie Sanders: His fans are mostly white. That's not the best way to win the nomination of a party that claims most black and Hispanic voters. I've written about this dynamic at Vox — and about Sanders's plan to try to address it. Josh does a good job of encapsulating it.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the challenger with the most momentum, represents a state that's 95 percent white, where Asian-Americans and multi-racial voters outnumber blacks. He's focused most of his campaign message on income inequality, constraining Wall Street excess, and campaign finance reform, while avoiding discussions on race relations, urban policing, or gun control. Only 25 percent of non-white Democratic voters said they'd even consider backing the senator's presidential bid, according to last month's NBC/Wall Street Journal survey.

6) Democrats may capture Senate majority — but not for long

For Democrats to win the Senate majority in 2016, they'll have to pull something close to an inside straight. To keep it in 2018, they'll have to do even better, Politico's Steven Shepard writes.

Eight of the 10 seats most likely to change parties next year are held by Republicans, and Democrats have a solid chance to grab control of the Senate following the 2016 elections. But Democrats should have higher ambitions for the number of seats they hope to grab in 2016. The 2018 Senate map isn’t nearly as welcoming for the party — they will be defending seats in Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia.

7) Halfway down: South Carolina Senate votes against Confederate battle flag

South Carolina moved one step closer to pulling down the Confederate battle flag.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

The South Carolina Senate voted 37-3 Monday to remove the Confederate battle flag from its place of honor outside the state Capitol, easily clearing a two-thirds threshold to pass the measure. Now, as the Post & Courier reports, it's up to the House to finish the job.

With Gov. Nikki Haley on the record saying the flag needs to come down, a two-thirds vote in the House would consign the battle flag, which has flown from a 30-foot pole as part of a Confederate Soldier Monument in front of the Statehouse steps since 2000, to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. The vote followed weeks of protests and growing demands by politicians, civil rights activists, community leaders and businesses to "Take It Down," saying it symbolized the racism that allegedly led to the mass killing at the church.

"That issue had to be resolved," said Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, who voted to remove it. "It had been festering for a long, long time."

8) Jimmy Carter, fine artist

The 39th president is out with a new book today that includes poems and paintings from major moments in his life. The Washington Post's Carlos Lozada explains one scene painted by Carter in a write-up of "A Full Life."

In the book, Carter explains how he broke an impasse with a personal gesture to Begin, who was angry with Carter and would not budge on two points the Israeli leader considered essential. The talks seemed to have failed. "My secretary came to me with a request from Begin that I sign photographs of the three leaders as souvenirs for his eight grandchildren," Carter recalls. "Without telling him, she had called Israel and obtained their names, so I inscribed them, with love, to each child. I went to Begin’s cabin, and he admitted me with a polite but frigid attitude. I gave him the photographs, he turned away to examine them, and then began to read the names aloud, one by one. He had a choked voice, and tears were running down his cheeks. I was also emotional, and he asked me to have a seat. After a few minutes, we agreed to try once more, and after some intense discussions we were successful."

9) Bill Cosby's old admission of giving women drugs gives new confidence to accusers

Bill Cosby has been accused of giving women drugs in order to have sex with them. In old court papers uncovered by the Associated Press, he conceded as much. Not that Cosby was due for a return to grace, but it's getting harder for anyone to defend him.

Bill Cosby admitted in 2005 that he secured Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with, and that he gave the sedative to at least one woman and "other people," according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press. ...

"If today's report is true, Mr. Cosby admitted under oath 10 years ago sedating women for sexual purposes," said Lisa Bloom, attorney for model Janice Dickinson, who claims she was drugged and raped. "Given that, how dare he publicly vilify Ms. Dickinson and accuse her of lying when she tells a very similar story?"

Celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who is also representing several women, said she hopes to use the admission in court cases against the comedian.