There is an article in the New Yorker called What Happens When a Bad-Tempered, Distractable Doofus Runs an Empire?

The first sentence: “One of the few things that Kaiser Wilhelm II, who ruled Germany from 1888 to 1918, had a talent for was causing outrage.” I’m guessing you thought it was about someone else, and it sort of is.

“Distractions…are everything to him.” The pattern sounds like Distractible speech: “topic maintenance difficulties due to distraction by nearby stimulus. Tangentiality: Replies to questions are off-point or totally irrelevant.” Wilhelm must have been maddening.

“He reads very little apart from newspaper cuttings, hardly writes anything himself apart from marginalia on reports and considers those talks best which are quickly over and done with.” Too bad television wasn’t widely available back then.

“One of the many things that Wilhelm was convinced he was brilliant at, despite all evidence to the contrary, was ‘personal diplomacy,’ fixing foreign policy through one-on-one meetings with other European monarchs and statesmen. In fact, Wilhelm could do neither the personal nor the diplomacy, and these meetings rarely went well…” Of course, nothing like THAT could happen in this modern age.

“He fetishized the Army, surrounded himself with generals…” How many generals have been in the current regime?
“In the administration During Wilhelm’s reign, the upper echelons of the German government began to unravel into a free-for-all, with officials wrangling against one another.” Where ARE the current leaks coming from?

“The Kaiser was susceptible but never truly controllable. He asserted his authority unpredictably, as if to prove he was still in charge, staging rogue interventions into his own advisers’ policies and sacking ministers without warning.” Sounds like hell to work for.

I wonder if the coincidence of the current head of the American regime having a birthday on Flag Day has affected some sense of faux nationalism, with that patriotism event in lieu of a visit from some of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

3 Responses to “Bad-Tempered, Distractible Doofus”

  • Alison Craig says:

    Hmm, maybe geneologial research would find a connection- totally misinterpreted by the current short attention span leader, of course.

  • He dismissed Bismarck, who created united Germany, and headed straight into the thing Bismarck worked to prevent more than anything else: a two front war.

  • Okay, now I’m reading the Wikipedia entry on him, which is generally positive, and it says he was smart and quick-witted. But then they quote a 20th century German historian as:

    “…Superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success,—as Bismarck said early on in his life, he wanted every day to be his birthday—romantic, sentimental and theatrical, unsure and arrogant, with an immeasurably exaggerated self-confidence and desire to show off, a juvenile cadet, who never took the tone of the officers’ mess out of his voice, and brashly wanted to play the part of the supreme warlord, full of panicky fear of a monotonous life without any diversions, and yet aimless…”

    In other words a clever boy, a spoiled brat like you know who.

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