ARCHIV - 08.07.2022, Schleswig-Holstein, Tinnum/Sylt: CDU-Chef Friedrich Merz und seine Frau Charlotte sind mit ihrem Privatflieger zur Hochzeit von Bundesfinanzminister Lindner auf Sylt gelandet. CDU-Chef und Hobby-Pilot Friedrich Merz (66) hat schon früh davon geträumt, selbst zu fliegen. (zu dpa: CDU-Chef Merz: «Fliegen war schon immer der Traum meiner Jugend») Foto: Axel Heimken/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Mistakes, one after the other, and from one after the other. But first things first: The case is complicated and there are losers everywhere.

The starting point is: CDU leader Friedrich Merz had agreed to take part in a “Transatlantic Forum” on August 31, (co) hosted by “The Republic”, a new, for some dubious conservative campaign platform in the representation of the state of Baden-Württemberg in Berlin. Also present: opinionated discussants, conservatives, AfD-close.

Now to the location, the state representation: Even if green and black rule in the state and the Greens are blacker there than anywhere else, the explosiveness has dawned on them. And the openness to the meetings as a mistake. Although Merz, the opposition leader with a will to power, would not have agreed anyway given the gaudy conservative background. That was a self-made trap – and a mistake.

Conversely, after his complaint that the left promotes “cancel culture”, i.e. campaigns against unacceptable opinions and people, he should not have rejected it so flimsy: on the grounds that the program had changed. Rather, the view of the program had changed – after the harsh public criticism of it, ironically from the left.

From the beginning, Merz was only supposed to meet his interlocutor – the Republican US Senator Lindsay Graham – as a couple. Against the background, Graham now feels alienated. One mistake and the senator retaliates: “Conservatives are about open, honest dialogue, where points are made and people sit down and listen to one another”; Conservatives would “not cancel each other before speaking”.

This is how Graham upsets Merz – which, conversely, is a mistake on his part. Because he, too long at Donald Trump’s side, is trying to regain his lost reputation. But Graham hits a point with his conservative mantra: sit together to argue. It was this other round in which the opinionated publicist Henryk M. Broder was supposed to debate the meaning of freedom with the controversial lawyer Joachim Steinhöfel and the ultra-conservative US activist Grover Norquist. Such rounds promise arguments.

Karin Prien, the CDU deputy, reserved the right to summarize the many mistakes in this case. She thinks it is important for conservatives to remain in dialogue worldwide, but it is equally necessary to distance oneself from reactionaries and right-wing extremists. You just have to think of it earlier.