In Europe, I mean. And she’s loving every minute of it. While Britain and France are occupied with political transition at home, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suddenly become the “go-to” person in Europe for the American government. And being that the United States is on the verge of entering a big political transition period of its own, and given her unexpected warm relationship with President Bush, this only makes Merkel’s weight problem all the more, well, weighty.

Or is it an accident that Condi Rice’s first stop after wrapping up her current tour through the Middle East will be Berlin? The Chancellor easily squeezed out a pledge from Bush to focus more on the “quartet” getting Israelis and Palestinians talking to each other again recently and this is the direct hands-on result. Condi is about as skinny as a bean pole, by the way, and looking thinner all the time.

That Merkel and her country would become more visible once assuming the presidencies of the EU and the G8 nations was certainly a no-brainer, but that she would be pushing her ample political weight around so effectively and easily has taken many off guard. Her initiative in the Middle East is being accompanied by an attempt to reinvigorate the Atlantic alliance; she hopes to create a trans-Atlantic economic zone. She is also pressing the Bush government for changes on climate change policy.

That Germany’s first woman Chancellor has broken with recent tradition is one thing (she is honest, straightforward and even seems to have something people used to call character, for instance), but jeez, normally women don’t go around flaunting their weight like this.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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