BERLIN -- The G-8 summit brought in the clowns, and now the demonstrators are gone, with their painted sardonic smiles of greasepaint only a mocking memory. The jester foes of globalization aspired to apply the needle to deflate Angela Merkel's moment of triumph along the Baltic coastline, lined with storybook castles and glistening seascapes. She got her photo-ops with her seven male counterparts.
Bild, the German tabloid, called her "Miss World" in a blockbuster Page One headline, an accolade for her "crowning" achievement. But in this gaggle of political groupies, Merkel's chief competition at Heiligendamm was Cecilia Sarkozy, the new "first madame of France," described in breathless chic magazine prose as "Jackie Kennedy a la Francaise." Madame Sarkozy, a former fashion model, didn't stay around long enough to enjoy her celebrity. She doesn't like sharing the spotlight with her husband. The German reporters gushed with cowgirl metaphors to describe how Frau Merkel had tamed the men. But they were not really buckaroos and couldn't even stay in the saddle with George W. Bush during the climate-change rodeo.
Frau Merkel accomplished nothing specific, and there was no historic moment to seize. But she succeeded in European eyes for getting George W. to return to climate control talks at the United Nations, rather than have his say at a conference of his own. Even that, such as it was, was less than meets the eye. With his cowboy deference and a toughness reminiscent of John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, the president was content to let the lady in the big boots earn her spurs and show his true grit by preventing the adoption of mandatory targets for reducing carbon emissions. He appealed for industrial ingenuity to reduce emissions without curbing economic growth. The emissions are already falling, according to The Wall Street Journal, by 8 percentage points in the first four years of the new century. George W. even revived interest in nuclear power, which is not a big seller with the anti-nuke activists.