Kindergarten Cop16 Jan 2006
Back before the fall election I wondered whether Angela Merkel had the right stuff and experience to lead a national government, since she had never acutally led a government of any type, only a party. Turns out that instead of a government she got a grand coalition, and her experience herding the Kindergarten boys Stoiber, Koch and Wulff was perhaps the perfect training not only for shepherding junior coalition partners, but for foreign policy as well.
First she soothed the Polish beast with a few billion euros to save the EU budget summit. Then she manages to satisfy domestic opinion and get on George W's good side during her first visit to Washington (the trick: announce in advance that we don't like Guantanamo, but say it very softly, and don't press the point). And today she tells Putin that even though she speaks Russian, she's not his buddy like Schröder was.
I thought it was interesting that George W. remarked that it was "uplifting to talk to somebody who knows the difference between just talking about tyranny and living in freedom and actually done it". I know serving as a minister in the Kohl cabinet was tough, but I wouldn't go quite that far.