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Tagesspiegel's Photo of President Bush

The US and German press criticized President Bush's speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. The Berlin newspaper "Der Tagesspiegel" has put the following picture on its frontpage. The title "Gestörte Wahrnehmung" means "Disturbed perception."
Please let us know whether you think this is an unfair Anti-Bush frontpage or appropriate criticism

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David on :

I would translate as "disturbed perception", and in no way is it anti-American. According to every poll in the US, the vast majority of Americans disapprove of Bush, the Iraq War, and especially Bush's handling of the war. Besides, the Tagesspiegel put the headline as a question, as if it had not already been decided that President Bush has a "disturbed perception" of foriegn affairs and history. BTW, I tried to find the entire article online. Is there a link?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Thanks for the translation. I have changed the post accordingly. There's no article about "Gestörte Wahrnehmung." This was just the title of a photo on the frontpage. The text below the photo is taken from a Reuters report: [url]http://www.ksta.de/html/artikel/1187344814155.shtml[/url]

RayD on :

I'm sure if they did the same photo with Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama - David would also have no objection. After all - it's in the form of a question...right? BTW: Does having a high or low rating in the polls automatically make someone or something right or wrong? That sounds like an interesting formula for governance...

David on :

"I'm sure if they did the same photo with Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama - David would also have no objection" I might object to a similar photo of Barack Obama, but I wouldn't consider it anti-American.

Jared on :

It's all too true that bush has an altered vision of reality. And RayD, that would be called a democracy.

Pat Patterson on :

And luckily for America we have a limited form of democracy called a republic which limits the passions of the mob as well as the actions of the government.

David on :

"passions of the mob" In other words, Dear Leader will show us the way to the light. God forbid a democracy would reflect the will of the majority.

Pat Patterson on :

"Dear Leader?" I thought the topic was President Bush not President Franklin Roosevelt. But Madison, among many others, spoke of the United States as a republic not a democracy and hopefully strong enough to resist what they called factions. "By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and activated by some common impulse of passion or of interest, adversed to the right of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community" James Madison, Federalist Paper #10

mike on :

This is a shame. I don't know for how long I can continue to live in this country. At least the will I have already lost. This is nothing more but the violation of one of the fundamental principles of journalism in democracy: the separation of news and comment (opinion).

just me on :

This is nothing more but the violation of one of the fundamental principles of journalism in democracy: the separation of news and comment (opinion). No matter how one might feel about Bush the above statement encapsulates everything that's wrong with the media today. Absolutely every honest person should be able to recognize the validity of that statement.

Zyme on :

Media is including comments in the news all the time here. This is nothing new but a traditional way of reporting. So anglo-saxon media does not comment? Come on...

Fuchur on :

Ah, that reminds me of Jon Stewart's great take on "the growing use of question marks on 24 hour news channels": [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5B_oNKoqbM[/url]

Fuchur on :

RayD has provided the links to the two articles accompanying the photo. Sadly, in another low-point in the history of Medienkritik, he completely distorts their content... [url]http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/Nahost-Irak;art2662,2363387[/url] [url]http://www.tagesspiegel.de/meinung/Kommentare-Irak;art141,2364250[/url] One of them is just a report on Bush's speech and some other news, but the opinion piece is pretty surprising, especially given the front page photo: The author pretty much says that [b]Bush is correct[/b] in his Vietnam comparison, and that a premature withdrawal from Iraq would be desastrous. Well, isn't it amazing how misleading perceptions can be?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Fuchur is, of course, right about the Tagesspiegel commentary by Clemens Wergin, who is one of the most Bush policy friendly commentators you will find in Germany. Besides, the Tagesspiegel is not Anti-American. They often run anti-Bush cartoons, but that's it. Today's frontpage celebrates the American 100m world champion in the US flag: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/uploads/DSC00063.JPG[/url] [img]http://atlanticreview.org/uploads/DSC00063.JPG[/img]

RayD on :

@ Joerg, I see you didn't explicitly call the image above "pro-America" - so forgive my use of quotes. You do, however, imply as much in my opinion.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Yes, I don't want to make too much out of this photo. Rather I wanted to stress that the Tagesspiegel is not Anti-American, which some readers might think after the Bush picture. This was another story with a picture on the Tagesspiegel frontpage in January. I wanted to blog about it as part of serious of "Pro-American" newspaper articles that describe Americans in a positive way, but did not have the time to write something profound. I was concerned that it sounds ridiculous to bring one example and shout: "Look, the German paper called a hero a "hero," i.e. the German media is wonderful" So I waited and waited and then it was too late. "Mutige Retter: "Woche der Helden" in New York Drei beherzte Amerikaner, die bei lebensgefährlichen Unfällen in New York zur Tat geschritten waren, sind in der ersten Woche des neuen Jahres als Helden gefeiert worden." [url]http://www.zeit.de/news/artikel/2007/01/07/87215.xml[/url]

RayD on :

How have I distorted the two articles? They don't offer readers perspective on the two sides of the debate in the USA - and that was my point. One is a lifeless report of the speech that mentions its content and the criticisms leveled afterwords. The opinion piece by Wergin is neither bold nor terribly informative: Whether Wergin agrees with Bush is also debatable. He points out that American losses have turned most Americans against the war and concludes that Iraq should not become Vietnam. He does agree that withdrawal from Vietnam was costly in terms of human life - and that the Americans should remain in Iraq - but that does not mean that he has given readers a significant contextual feel for the debate in the USA or that he agrees with Bush's position - other than to say that the Democrats don't have good alternatives. Calling this author "Bush friendly" simply because he does not join in the more viscious attacks does not make the tone of this article any less neutral nor does it make the debate in the United States any more clear. By the way Joerg: Reporting on sporting events is hardly "pro-American." An American paper showing a Gemran athelete wrapped in a German flag after a race is not "pro-German" either - it's just reporting who won.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

To put a PHOTO of the winner wrapped in the US flag (rather than just with his medal) on the FRONTPAGE is a bit more than "just reporting who won." Reporting could have been done in the sports section.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

You sometimes criticize the German press for focusing on negative US stories. Well, here you have a positive one. Something to improve the US image. Okay, it is just sports, but it is on the frontpage nevertheless.

RayD on :

How does this improve the image of the US? This is just a guy who won a race who happens to be from the US. They could have shown the winner had he been from China or Jamaica. It just so happens an American won this time. Further, I think you are stretching to label things as pro-American in an attempt to prove that it somehow balances out or at least counters the negative. It doesn't.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"How does this improve the image of the US?" Isn't that like asking, how does a report about obese Americans do harm to the US image? The US champion is a postive story showing Americans in a good light, like the hero who saved people in the subway, link above. "They could have shown the winner had he been from China or Jamaica." German newspapers don't put pingpong champions from China and bobsled champions from Jamaica on the frontpage. "somehow balances out or at least counters the negative. It doesn't." No, it does not balance it out, but it counters it to some extent. Without the Iraq war, there would be much less negative stories. I guess, negative articles about US highschools are countered by the same number of articles about how wonderful the US Ivy League schools and and articles about yet another scientific breakthrough at some US lab. I have been at Johns Hopkins. A good school, sure, but my grandma was extremely impressed when I got accepted, because she constantly read in her newspaper and magazines articles that started with "Researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that this or that treatment prevents cancer." Or: if you eat this fruit, then your blood pressure will go down. Every little study is celebrated as a breakthrough. So yes, there is a lot of Anti-Americanism in the German media, but not every piece about the US in the German media is tinted by Anti-Americanism. Every country has a media that is unfair or utterly ignorant/stupid about other countries. The US is more of a target because it is the most powerful country and wants to spread human rights and democracy around the world, thus the US is hold by a higher standard by many people. As Governor Bush said in 2000: "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us; if we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us. And our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that's why we've got to be humble, and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom." [url]http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/july-dec00/for-policy_10-12.html[/url] Of course, this does not justify or excuse Anti-Americanism, but it explains some part of it.

Pat Patterson on :

And it should be noted that before the quote above was uttered candidate Bush said, "The first question is what's in the best interest of the United States?" And then almost exactly 11 months later the niceties of campaign speechs vanished in the smoke of the WTC and the Pentagon. Humble didn't work.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

"what's in the best interest of the United States?" Of course. I fail to see how 9/11 has changed Bush's argument of "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us." Likewise, I am not convinced with Cheney's change of heart on Iraq: Why was invading Iraq in 1994 likely to end in a quagmire, but he was pushing for it in 2002 anyway. Why have both men not lived by their pre-9/11 advice after 9/11? Even after 9/11 it makes sense to avoid giving the impression of arrgoance. Even after 9/11 it makes sense to be concerned about quagmire in Iraq, so Cheney should have made sure that his government, eh, the Bush administration, planned the Iraq war more carefully. I don't buy this argument that 9/11 changed everything, which so many US politicians use. Bill Maher is also fed up: "Maher has a great bit about how 9/11 actually changed nothing (taxes weren't raised, there was no draft etc..etc..)." [url]http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/60714/[/url] And in the Middle East, not so much has changed either. Saddam is gone, but the new guys are not better either. US policy has not changed either that much. The US is still selling guns to autocratic regimes. Who cares about democracy? Its all about containment of Iran, the big satan. You know, after 9/11 there was a time, when I thought, yeah, the US push for democracy is the right thing. Unlike the Europeans, the US has realized the region needs democracy etc and that the US reversing course. Great. But what has actually changed? Do Americans still want democratisation in the Arab world? No, they just want to get out of Iraq in a decent way. If some evil Saddam like strong man would stabilize Iraq, the US would be fine with it and consider it a good opportunity to leave Iraq. So, yes, 9/11 has temporarly changed US policy. US politicians looked differently at the world, but now they return to the old policy. You are right, Bush realized that "humble did not work," he took out a big stick. Now the stick is broken and he would like to return to humble and have the big stick for emergencies.

influx on :

[i]How have I distorted the two articles? They don't offer readers perspective on the two sides of the debate in the USA - and that was my point.(...) Whether Wergin agrees with Bush is also debatable.[/i] No, that was not your point. Your point was that "Tagesspiegel seems more interested in reinforcing its readership's Hate-Bush, Hate-America tendencies than offering them an honest, objective overview of the diverse political scene in the United States." How is Wergin's opinion piece (or the other article, for that matter, the one you called "a lifeless report of the speech that mentions its content and the criticisms leveled afterwords (sic!)") catering to Hate-Bush, Hate-America tendencies?

RayD on :

@ influx: OK - let me directly quote from what I wrote: "Unfortunately yet predictably, neither the caption above - nor the articles that accompany it - offer anything but a one-sided - (you might say "distorted") - picture of the heated debate currently underway. The paper makes little, if any, mention of support for the surge and opposition to rapid withdrawal." So for you to say "No - that was not your point" is in direct contradiction to what I actually wrote. Did you read what I wrote? When I speak about reinforcing Hate-Bush and Hate-America tendencies - I am speaking about the Tagesspiegel presentation as a whole. Placing a photo such as the one above front and center on your newspaper's cover is absolutely consistent with my observation. The two articles may not exactly have been more gasoline on the fire - they were rather neutral in tone - but (my point was that) they did nothing to mitigate the innuendo of the first page nor did they explain to readers that there is a complex and heated debate going on in the United States over Iraq and the recent Vietnam comparison.

David on :

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Pat Patterson on :

And just as stupidly and off-topic I can recommend this site for you! [url]http://koryogroup.com/[/url]

RayD on :

That is the last argument of someone who has no argument. I guess you don't have a right to an opinion unless you join the military. So if you support intervention in Darfur or Bosnia - do you now have to join the military in your book? FYI: Virtually everyone in my family (My Dad, my sister, both my grandfathers, my uncle) has served in the military...

David on :

Why not you? You are eager to see more young Americans sent into the sectarian violence. How do you explain your hypocrisy (or cowardice)? I have been to three funeral services over the past year in my community for young men in their 20s who were killed in Iraq. How many have you been to? How many grieving families have you met with?

Pat Patterson on :

So if RayD has been to four funerals does that mean he has more moral authority to his point of view? Or is that simply another weak counterstroke that hits the net?

Fuchur on :

@Ray [i]When I speak about reinforcing Hate-Bush and Hate-America tendencies - I am speaking about the Tagesspiegel presentation as a whole.[/i] Yes, and that's why it's so obviusly wrong. Would you be talking only about the photo, then your point would at least be arguable. As it is, the "presentation as a whole" consists of - one provocative, eye-catching photo - one matter-of-factly (or "lifeless", since you want to be negative at all cost) report - one opinion piece that clearly states that Bush has a good point with his Vietnam comparison (it's cute to see how you desperately try to chip away at that simple truth by putting forth pathetic no-points like "the opinion piece is not bold", or it's not "terribly informative" or "we shouldn't call it 'Bush-friendly', because the author doesn't declare his unconditional love for Bush") Now, I won't even enter into a childish debate about what exact value these three put together make on the Love-Bush-Hate-Bush-scale. The point is that it is a fundamental dishonesty to smear the whole presentation as "Hate-Bush", "Hate-America", or as providing a "perverted, biased version of reality" - without mentioning that the opinion piece actually endorses Bush's point of view! Even more so considering the fact that many (most?) of your readers aren't fluent enough in German to fact-check for themselves.

RayD on :

@ Fuchur You write: "The point is that it is a fundamental dishonesty to smear the whole presentation as "Hate-Bush", "Hate-America", or as providing a "perverted, biased version of reality" - without mentioning that the opinion piece actually endorses Bush's point of view!" That is the fundamental flaw in your argument. The piece as a whole does not endorse Bush or his point of view. All the author actually says is that Bush is right to warn that there are enormous potential dangers of (too sudden a) withdrawal in Iraq - just as there proved to be in Vietnam. On the other hand, Wergin just as forcefully writes (in the opening paragraph and later in the article) that Bush has made terrible mistakes in the past (like going to war in the first place) that have made the current situation highly unpopular on the home front. Nowhere does Wergin endorse the surge or give readers a greater understanding of the debate currently underway in the United States. Again, just because Wergin agrees with Bush on one point does not make this a pro-Bush piece as you contend. If anything, the tone is neutral - and points out the problems Wergin sees with Bush's policy on Iraq to date. Further, this article does little, if anything, to counter the overall negative image from the first page - nor does the news report. So Tagesspiegel has - to make my point again - offered readers a sensational cover (on its front news page!) that feeds the stereotypes with accompanying content that does nothing to counter the stereotypes or deepen readers' understanding of the rich political debate taking place in the United States. That was my initial argument and I stand firmly behind it. Your unwillingness to concede that point and your insistence that Wergin is cheerleading for Bush - when his article offers only brief and tepid support for Bush on one point - likely has more to do with your own hatred of Bush and his Iraq policies than any real or objective analysis of the overall presentation offered by Tagesspiegel. Sorry - no sale. My analysis stands.

Fuchur on :

[i]Nowhere does Wergin endorse the surge or give readers a greater understanding of the debate currently underway in the United States.[/i] That's the fundamental flaw in your argumentation: You arbitrarily decree that any "good" article must talk about the surge, and the debate about the surge. What an absurd notion! This article is about Bush's "Vietnam speech", and in particular about the question whether Bush's Vietnam comparison is correct. Whether the surge is a success, whether Bush's handled the war well so far - [b]that's simply not what this article is about[/b]! [i]On the other hand, Wergin just as forcefully writes (in the opening paragraph and later in the article) that Bush has made terrible mistakes in the past [/i] You didn't read carefully enough. The opening paragraph says "[Bush] zieht seine Folgerungen aus den Fehlern der Vergangenheit", which IMO means: Bush draws his conclusions from the mistakes made [b]in Vietnam[/b] - not in Iraq! I don't know what you mean by "later in the article"?! I didn't find a single mention of any Bush mistakes in the whole article. I repeat my point: The frontpage photo asks "Has Bush a distorted perception?", and the opinion piece provides the answer: "No, Bush's perception is correct." Wergin doesn't endorse Bush's present and past Iraq policy, nor does he criticize it. He simply says that Bush is correct in stating that a premature withdrawal from Iraq would be desastrous. That's it.

RayD on :

@ fuchur: You write: "You didn't read carefully enough. The opening paragraph says "[Bush] zieht seine Folgerungen aus den Fehlern der Vergangenheit", which IMO means: Bush draws his conclusions from the mistakes made in Vietnam - not in Iraq!" OK - let me quote the Wergin piece directly. The first paragraph contains the following sentence: "Der Militäreinsatz in Irak sei ein ähnlich verheerender außenpolitischer Fehler wie der Vietnamkrieg." "The military mission in Iraq is a similarly terrible foreign policy mistake as the Vietnam war." In the second to last paragraph, he writes: "Heute besteht die US-Armee zwar nur noch aus Berufssoldaten. Die bisher 3700 getöteten US-Soldaten und mangelnde Erfolgsaussichten haben aber die öffentliche Meinung in den USA längst gegen den Krieg gewendet." "Today the US Army is composed only of professional (volunteer) soldiers. The until now 3700 killed US soldiers and the lack of prospects for success have long turned public opinion against the war." Doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of Bush or his Iraq policy by any stretch of the imagination.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Ray you have not correctly translated Wergin. You missed the "indirekte Rede." He is not stating his opinion, but describing other peoples opinion. Thus you are wrong to conclude "Doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of Bush or his Iraq policy by any stretch of the imagination." After all, as you know: "Kritiker der Bush-Regierung ziehen den Vergleich seit Jahren: Der Militäreinsatz in Irak sei ein ähnlich verheerender außenpolitischer Fehler wie der Vietnamkrieg." means: "Critics of the Bush administration have made this comparison for years: The military mission in Iraq is a similarly terrible foreign policy mistake as the Vietnam war." Wergin is taking issue with the criticism against President Bush, i.e. he is defending Bush and criticizing the Democrats.

RayD on :

@ Joerg, You are right about the first paragraph - it does say that Bush's critics have said that - and that does mitigate my point. The second to last paragraph - however - still points out that the lack of prospects for success in Iraq has cut support for the war back home. That is a clear and critical reference to what is going on in Iraq. Again - at the most this article provides tepid support - but I see little harsh criticism of Democrats other than to say that they don't have a good alternative. In my opinion, this is the tone of a distant and rather neutral observer. Wergin has a realistic view - and agrees with Bush that sudden withdrawal would be bad - but his work is hardly a strong endorsement of Bush or his policy. It also does very little to counter the front page smear. To me, the overall presentation is negative (the smear is put front and center where most will see it) and the articles do little - if anything - to counter the overall message.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Wergin's comment was on the back cover or whatever the correct term is. Quite prominently displayed. Still, I agree with you that the picture on the front page with a clear message says much more than a more careful argument in the commentary.

RayD on :

Sorry Joerg, The war in Iraq does not excuse the irrational - biased hate-mongering that has gone for years in German media and politics. There is something far deeper at work than just Iraq or Bush. I can only recommend Markovit's book - and he is hardly a Bush fan.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

If I remember correctly, Markovits writes that a lot of Anti-Americanism results from the US being the only superpower and having an interventionist foreign policy, I think he even made specific reference to the Iraq. There would be less cowboy covers, if the US had not invaded Iraq. Something like that.

Don S on :

"There would be less cowboy covers, if the US had not invaded Iraq. Something like that." The US would not have invaded Iraq if 9/11 hadn't occured. The US may not have seen a necessity to invade Iraq had Europe lived up to it's agreement to sanctions after Iraq War I rather than agitating to undermine them almost immediately. 'Oil for Food' was a European plan - and a corrupt one Please don't try to sweep that under the rug....

Don S on :

BTW, the dead fish at the very top of the picture seems to be blushing. Is this because "Der Tagesspiegel" is a publication a dead fish would be ashamed to be wrapped in (or printed on)? ;)

ADMIN on :

Please note that by default the comments in this blog are threaded rather than linear, i.e. some of the latest responses to comments are not at the bottom, but in the middle of the thread right behind the comment they respond to. At the top of the comments section you have the option to change the view from threaded to linear (=chronological), which enables you to see the latest comments at the end of the thread.

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