Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Project Guttenberg III: The Minister Resigns

“I have reached the limits of my strength.”

With these words, Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg ended the statement this morning in which he declared his resignation as German Defence Minister.

Over the past few days the criticism of him, particularly from the academic community, had grown steadily. Over the weekend, the number of Christian Democrat party colleagues who were prepared to publicly question whether his questionable conduct in plagiarising large parts of his doctoral thesis made the retention of his position within Chancellor Merkel’s cabinet possible increased.

The pressure was finally too great.

It remains to be seen how Merkel will “spin” this, particularly given her public support for zu Guttenberg up to now. In particular, a comment by the chancellor last week in which she said that she “had appointed zu Guttenberg as a minister and not as a research assistant,” had provoked much criticism. Many had pointed out that it was the same person who had cheated in his doctorate and was now commander or the Bundeswehr – Merkel’s distinction was “schizophrenic.”

The academics were perhaps somewhat slow in going public on this but, perhaps, this was only to be expected; the learned often need more time than others.

See my earlier posts on the subject.


  1. I really like "the learned often need more time...." "

    I thought that my indecisiveness was just because I had so much messy and irrelevant data in my brain, and maybe the old CPU slows down a bit over time. :)

  2. Tom DeLay continued as Speaker of the House in the US Senate for years in spite of all sorts of criminal behavior. Nobody in recent US governments has been known to resign a post out of shame.

  3. Well he had to go, but very poor form on Merkel's part for not making him resign in the first place. After Hamburg and this, it'll be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming state elections.

    Looking at zu Guttenberg's future, I'm reminded of Franz Josef Strauss in 1962. In 1966, four years after he resigned, he was back in government. It seems the CSU can be quite forgiving of its star politicians...

  4. If we're to name past offenders, I would say that impeached President Clinton certainly used the White House Oval Office in a contemptible manner. He lied his teeth out. But he didn't resign. It was a great morality lesson to American children.

    Actually Guttenberg didn't say he resigned because he cheated for his thesis. It's not the shame of his action but the intensity of the criticism which pushed him to the brink. He had "no energy left to fight" and to do his job. I'm just repeating what I read he said.

    Probably, doctorate or not, he will return to political life. He will just wait patiently for the call to serve his country again, to the best of his abilities.

    As much as I have faith in the individual soul of a few people, I'm very sceptical about the political soul of any country (my own, Canada, included). Expediency is often the law of the land. That's why, in this sad case, there was so much hesitancy about the proper course of action.

    Francis chéri, (returning your compliment) I don't think that the learned needed more time. They simply had a big problem to recognise, in public, their own sin in granting so easily a doctorate to a fake thesis.

    À votre santé!:)


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