The German chauffeur scandal

NY Times:

Talk about car trouble.

Ulla Schmidt, the German health minister, had her chauffeur drive her armored Mercedes S-class official vehicle some 1,500 miles from Germany to Spain, where she is vacationing on the coast near Alicante. Voters back home probably never would have been the wiser had thieves not stolen the car, leaving Ms. Schmidt without a vehicle but with some explaining to do.

A leading taxpayers’ group pounced on Ms. Schmidt, a Social Democrat, over the wasted money in driving the car halfway across Europe. The opposition Green Party immediately took issue with the pollution created by the drive.

“There is no scandal,” Ms. Schmidt told the newspaper Aachener Zeitung, adding that it was “more economical” to use her regular driver and car than to hire both in Spain.

Ms. Schmidt insisted that everything was handled correctly, or at least within the letter of the law, because she made several official visits during her vacation and paid out of her own pocket for private jaunts. But for the left-wing Social Democrats, whose dwindling hopes of winning the Sept. 27 election rest on convincing voters that, during these hard economic times, they are the party more in touch with the plight of the average person, a chauffeur scandal is anything but helpful.

The perks of office in Europe and the UK have become an embarrassment for left of center parties. Spain with its socialist government is dealing with record unemployment and could have used her hire of local talent. The US maybe the only country in the West to have elected a left of center government in recent years and we are already regretting it.

We have a President who has destroyed much of the travel and entertainment business with his dictum's about corporate travel, while he takes extravagant trips for a date in New York and is planning a vacation at a ritzy resort in Massachusetts this summer. At some point the trips may become a scandal as he sends the deficit to new depths.


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