Use the Spanner to Loosen the Corset

Last week in Berlin one of several events I was compelled to attend was a Q&A session between mostly American high school exchange students and members of the Bundestag. Most of the question posed to the Bundestag representatives were either ill-formed, embarrassingly inappropriate, or failed to end in a question mark. But my interest was piqued by the last question of the session, which asked the representatives which US presidential candidate they felt would be best for German-American relations. The representatives disappointingly opted not to answer and instead turned the question back to the 300 high school students, whereupon the vast majority signaled their support for Barack Obama with such an overwhelming vehemence that the few John McCain supporters were made to look like a fringe group of beleaguered crazies. I can’t imagine the representatives causing the same raucous, but it appears that had the question been asked of them, the opinion might have been largely the same:

…[I]t is no surprise to see just 25 per cent of respondents [in Germany] viewing the US as “a force for good”. But…excitement is palpable about the prospect of a new, more harmonious, trans-Atlantic relationship. The survey shows that those hopes are pinned squarely on one man: Barack Obama.

“Germans are very much taken with his multi-cultural background and particularly his air of aristocratic humility,” said Constanze Stelzenmüller, director of the German Marshall Fund in Berlin…

But analysts warn that enthusiasm could be misplaced.

…[W]hile most Germans, as revealed in the Telegraph poll, believe Mr Obama is best placed to lead the world economy out of its difficulties, financial experts here may take a different view.

“Non-experts don't worry about the detail of candidates' economic plans, but experts worry that Obama could put on a corset of isolationism over trade, which would throw a huge spanner in the works.”

To Germans I say: beware the spanner, the corset, and the mixed metaphor!