It's now official: Republican Senator John McCain will take on Democratic Senator Barack Obama in the upcoming US presidential election. Germany's media has taken particular interest in Obama since his speech in Berlin this summer, which drew over 200,000 people. The junior senator from Illinois is wildly popular in Germany, but this week German papers turned their attention to the Republican national convention.
Publications across the political spectrum devoted considerable coverage to the event – but not necessarily because of McCain, who is already fairly well known in Germany. His speech didn't go over well with the country's moderate political tendencies and much like the press in America, German publications were fascinated by the unconventional choice of Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin to be McCain's running mate.
The Hamburg-based weekly Die Zeit ripped into McCain on Friday, saying the veteran senator “botched” his speech on Thursday. “He appeared tired, old, pale and without ideas,” the paper commented. “McCain couldn't present the case to Americans deeply disappointed by George W. Bush why he – the aged Republican senator of 22 years – should stand for change and the future.”
The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung agreed that “after eight years of Bush America is more than ready for change.” However, the paper wasn't ready to write off the GOP ticket just yet. “That the pendulum will swing to the left and a Democrat will move into the White House is far from decided. The historic event of the 2008 election year could also be that a woman takes on the role of vice president for the first time.”
By comparison, the centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung didn't have much good to say about McCain's acceptance speech on Thursday night. “The elderly senator's speech was respectable, monotone and over several passages just plain boring,” the paper wrote. “John McCain will never become president this way. The Republican can't even entice members of his own party to the voting booth like this.”
The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung praised Palin's striking impression on convention-goers, but said it foresees some complications stemming from her unvetted background. “Sarah Palin did extremely well at the Republican convention. But that shouldn't be overrated,” the paper opined. “Too many strange and surprising details have surfaced about the Alaska governor. Apparently McCain's team didn't review their choice thoroughly enough prior to the nomination.” And that kind of sloppy negligence isn't encouraging for someone hoping to take over the White House, the paper added.
However, the Thüringische Landeszeitung in Weimar painted the feisty, self-styled hockey mom in a more positive light. “No one should underestimate Palin,” wrote the daily. “She worked her way to the top and that takes courage and intelligence. It's not inconceivable that she could end up rivaling the 72-year-old McCain.”