Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Germans' Conscience Wants to Be a Guide President Herzog, on US Visit, Takes Job from Ribbon Cutting to Bully Pulpit

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Germans' Conscience Wants to Be a Guide President Herzog, on US Visit, Takes Job from Ribbon Cutting to Bully Pulpit

Article excerpt

When German President Roman Herzog arrives in Washington, he will have no military review on the tarmac and no state dinner at the White House - just a small luncheon with President Clinton July 24. Why? The White House owes Germany a state visit, and until that diplomatic social obligation is satisfied, the German head of state cannot make a "state visit" to Washington. And because President Herzog has no direct political role, the term "working visit" is not used, his aides explain. It's just a visit - no military review and no state dinner. If Herzog is miffed at this, he didn't let it show at a pre-departure briefing at the Villa Hammerschmidt, his official residence in Bonn. And in any case, he will still have the opportunity to bend the ears of Mr. Clinton, the Senate leadership, and others. The term "bully pulpit" was used by Theodore Roosevelt to describe the American presidency, and it describes Herzog's role, too. Chancellor Helmut Kohl takes care of running the government. Herzog's role is as the conscience of his nation, helping define public discourse and touching on the important issues that sometimes get lost among daily pressures. His so-called Berlin speech in April, in which he said Germany needed a "jolt" and called for more decisive action from politicians, is still reverberating. "Bill Gates started in a garage and while still a young man turned Microsoft into a worldwide company," he said. "But if he tried that in Germany, the factory inspector would close down the garage." His office has received tens of thousands of requests for copies of his text, and a similar number have been downloaded from the Internet. The presidential role is not only as a mouthpiece, but as eyes and ears, too. A visit to the Holocaust Museum, dedicated to the millions who lost their lives in Nazi death camps in World War II, will be on his schedule in Washington. …
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