Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany. I've been following her more closely than I otherwise would because she's a woman.

Any long article about Merkel that I've read says that she was a physicist in East Germany before the re-unification of Germany. Any long article will also say that in some activity recent when the article was written people were very impressed with her grasp of all the details and the history of whatever was up.

So reading articles like this I think: is physicist and has striking grasp of details. She's smart.

I keep reading long articles about Merkel, in the Financial Times, in New York Times, in The Wall Street Journal.

These articles have in common that they don't say she's smart. They will not use the s word.

In the Wall Street Journal for May 3, 2006, a front page article on her said, in the continued part of the article, "Many business executives and others who meet her say they are struck by the clarity of her logic and ability to organize. But she doesn't play the intellectual and keeps a modest profile."

That's getting closer. Policy wonk--that would be a good term that acknowledges smartness in a semi-jokey way. I've never seen it used about her.

Before she was elected, I read that she was smart politically--they didn't use the word smart--because she didn't telegraph her punches. That is some guy, often on her team, would be pulling stuff on her and back stabbing and she would not bellow like a wounded male animal. She would bide her time, and the gentlemen in question was surprised when one fine day he was relatively out in the cold with much less power than he used to have.

Although I read behavior like this described several times, successful behavior like this, I never heard it described as politically smart, or savvy, or any smart work like that.

The pull quote on the Merkel article in 5/3/2006 Wall Street Journal is " ' I have been repeatedly underestimated, and it's a role I can live with well, ' says Ms. Merkel."

The word "well" is very telling. It makes me think she doesn't have staff running to reporters saying how smart she is for a reason. Being underestimated, having people surprised again and again at her showing the markers of great intelligence, is just another resource for her to use wisely. Not working to brand herself as smart as many politicians would is smart.

I like the name. To have an embedded Angel at the head of a government could be good.An effective angel might look, in a general sort of way, like Madeline Albright and might communicate in a very straight forward way--not charming, not abrasive--and might be smart and have people forget, again and again, how very smart she is.