Actually, this could have been a relaxed weekend for the CDU and its boss. Only a few weeks after taking office, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer achieved a first small but symbolically important success: Soldiers in uniform are soon allowed to travel for free with Deutsche Bahn. With such nice stories for the shop window one can consolidate one's own political standing in many small steps - if one makes no mistakes otherwise.
That's why Kramp-Karrenbauer is currently struggling, that's clear. It has gained a tank of incomprehensible phrases and idioms after the debacle surrounding Rezo's YouTube video and the ensuing debate about freedom of expression on the Net and its supposed attempt to curtail it, and its stupid carnival joke about unisex toilets she crawls. Just no further gaffe, no thoughtless, spontaneous half sentence!
But then she rips everything back in an interview and talks to the next crisis without any ado. "There are good reasons to eliminate someone from a party, but I do not see any attitude in Mr. Maassen that really connects him to the CDU," she said on Friday to Hans-Georg Maaßen and his ultra-conservative cleavers club, the value union. Kramp-Karrenbauer would like to throw Maaßen out of the CDU: So their statement was quite rightly read by party friends. Only a little later, the CDU boss wanted to correct: So they did not mean that.
Blame for defeats is passed to Berlin
Kramp-Karrenbauer can not throw Maaßen out of her party. Sebastian Edathy, Thilo Sarrazin and Björn Höcke: The list of failed attempts at exclusion - also in other parties - is long, as the CDU boss knows. Likewise, she should have known how her statement would be interpreted. In political Berlin this is part of the little multiplication table. Such printed interviews are always checked against authorization; So Kramp-Karrenbauer and her team had the chance to correct the wording before publication. But the party leader first hinted at an unsustainable demand and afterwards claimed to have been misunderstood. Much more efficient you can hardly push your own self-dismantling.
Weakness is rarely an objective state of affairs in politics, but rather the result of collective attributions - and at a certain point they are beyond control. Slowly begins in the CDU a process that can be dangerous Kramp-Karrenbauer. Did she, senior Christian Democrats, only ask for the Ministry of Defense, because otherwise Jens Spahn would have taken over the house? So, was not the change to the Cabinet a courageous step forward, but only an attempt to out of distress an inner-party competitor for the next Chancellor candidate?
Where is Kramp-Karrenbauers Team?
And where is your Secretary General, whose job it would be to measure your own team? If a party leader feels compelled to judge a simple member like Maassen, that is above all a sign that she is at the end of her means. Kramp-Karrenbauer had clearly distanced himself from the value union several times before. In terms of content, this is the completely correct decision. However, upgrading the conflict to a one-on-one with the former constitutional protector two weeks before the state elections in East German states gives Maassen and his right-wing club only the satisfaction they crave so badly.
Angela Merkel would never have done that. She would probably have ignored Maaßen in the ground until he raves - or voluntarily goes to the AfD. Small turf wars would have won them over others. But Ronald Pofalla is now on the train and Volker Kauder sits in the Bundestag only at the very back. Who could take over her role for Kramp-Karrenbauer, has not yet shown.
If the elections in the East are lost to the CDU, for which there is much to speak at the moment, the party friends in Potsdam, Dresden and Erfurt will pass on much of their responsibility to Berlin for the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus. After only ten months in office, Kramp-Karrenbauer has entangled himself and her party in a permanent crisis mode. Power and governance are the central currencies for Christian democracy. And if the chairman is no longer viewed as a guarantor, but as a risk factor, even in the notoriously obnoxious CDU storm can break out on the leadership.