May 19, 2019

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Opinion | Trump’s Man in Berlin

Opinion | Trump’s Man in Berlin
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In true Trumpian fashion, Mr. Grenell insisted he had been misinterpreted. “Don’t put words in my mouth,” he tweeted. “The idea that I’d endorse candidates/parties is ridiculous. I stand by my comments that we are experiencing an awakening from the silent majority — those who reject the elites & their bubble. Led by Trump.”

Indeed, Breitbart is not known for accuracy in reporting. But just selecting Breitbart, a professed platform for the alt-right and all of its falsehoods, biases and conspiracy theories, for an interview raised serious questions about Mr. Grenell’s judgment. He knows full well that when Breitbart speaks of “conservatism” it does not mean the Christian Democratic Party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the head of the government to which he is accredited. In case that was not clear, Breitbart said the ambassador expressed a deep respect and admiration for the young Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, saying: “Look, I think Sebastian Kurz is a rock star. I’m a big fan.”

Now Mr. Kurz, at 31 Austria’s youngest chancellor, leads a nationalist government in coalition with the far-right, pro-Russian Freedom Party and has been sharply critical of Ms. Merkel for her willingness to accept Muslim immigrants. The German equivalent would be Ms. Merkel’s nemesis, the far-right Alternative for Germany. Adding insult to injury — and violating protocol — Mr. Grenell invited Mr. Kurz to lunch when the Austrian chancellor visits Berlin next week.

It may be anachronistic to expect politically appointed American diplomats to fully abide by traditional European standards of diplomatic correctness. And it may be unrealistic to expect that the handpicked envoy of a president who has so totally debased political discourse could be respectful or wise in his utterances. But Mr. Grenell does not, and should not, represent the United States.

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