George W. Bush can't get many breaks these days (approval ratings here), but one place he can always turn is Bild ("Picture") Germany's biggest-circulation daily tabloid newspaper. They support him foursquare, and even ran a "10 Reasons why Bush is the Better President" editorial before the 2004 elections. In Bild, German-American relations are about what they where in 1965. The big strong Amis are protecting us from lots of threats, sending us glamorous Hollywood movies, and buying our high-quality product.
Now Bild's publisher, Kai Diekmann, has gotten an exclusive invitation to the White House, a personal tour of the oval office, and a chance to interview "the world's most powerful man," as the heading has it. Here's a link to Part I of his interview. Diekmann poses some questions about foreign policy --nothing confrontational -- and a few softballs: "The U.S. economy's booming now, thanks in part to comprehensive tax cuts. Are Germans correct to be raising taxes now?" Bush answers demurely, taking credit for U.S. economic growth, but declining to give other countries advice about tax policy. He also praises Germany for having a deep horror of war and making high-quality products (good, they love that!), and admits that he never saw a single soccer match when he was a child (shocking, but disarmingly frank). Not only was Bush well-schooled for this interview, he also sounds more coherent in German than he does in English.
But here's the funny thing about this interview. Bush is, as we all know, a conservative Christian. Bild is, as we all know, a tabloid newspaper, and a pretty tangy one at that. There is a bare-breasted Page 1 girl in almost every issue of Bild, and that's just the beginning. On the same website as the Bush interview, for instance, you can also find Bild's review of a dance piece by a Belgian choreographer featuring the Korean dancer Sung-im Her. (You have to look; the website is crap).
Why is this news to Bild readers? Because the gorgeous, nubile young thing covered herself in olive oil and danced around naked, for obscure Belgian-artist reasons! Plenty of pictures, naturally! Bild's review consisted of the remark that her performance made the whole theater smell like a Greek restaurant. The headline: "Hard to Believe -- Korean Woman in Oil!" [1. Why is her
race nationality so important? 2. Would, say, a Finnish woman in oil be any less surprising? An Australian? An American? --ed.]
Bild also recently featured a long, extremely graphic accounts of Eurovision Song Contest contestant Severina's "private porn video," noting that in many scenes, she could be seen "satisfying" her partner orally. The report was accompanied by with not just 1, not just 10, but 21 video stills of the lusty, buck-naked Croatian chanteuse writing in ecstasy as she was serviced "in all imaginable positions" by a "millionaire entrepreneur." In the side-bar: "69 Things [har har] You Didn't Know about Porno-Videos!"
And I haven't even gotten to the tell-all confessions of German stars, complete with intergalactic drug binges that leave them covered in vomit in toilet stalls, relentless adultery, hot-tub orgies, alcoholic auto crashes, the whole 9 yards. Oh, and a while back, Bild ran its own service allowing readers who wanted to cheat on their spouses to hook up with each other secretly.
Now, don't get me wrong. I have no truck with the prissy Bild-bashing so popular among the educated classes over here. Let the people have their naked, oil-covered Korean dancers, I say. For that matter, let me have them, too!
But really, is this the sort of publication a decent Christian -- a decent Texan Christian -- would give an interview to?