That was a real Merz: First his pithy comment on “social tourism” by Ukrainian war refugees, then a screwed-up apology.
For the weakly flashing traffic light coalition, this was at least a touch of relief from the opposition leader, a distraction from mismanagement and opposition in an increasingly naked government.
But one has to be blind to reality to fail to appreciate that Germany is not only under great pressure as a well-fortified democracy, not only as a country of energy transition and shortages, but also as a welfare state.
A proud 84 million people now live in Germany or, let's say, are registered here.
Not only will there soon be one employed person for one pensioner, which is very different from the past.
The new citizen's income almost suggests to employees that work is not necessarily worthwhile.
A million war refugees
The community supports the one million war refugees from Ukraine so far with full conviction: The war is near and it could not be clearer who is the perpetrator and who needs help.
There's also a sense that if it weren't for the Ukrainians, you could be the next victim yourself.
But that doesn't change the fact that a million people have to be cared for, preferably with more than the bare minimum.
In addition, more than 130,000 asylum seekers have applied here this year alone, a significant increase.
More and more refugees are coming back via the Balkan route and the Mediterranean.
Germany has been at a turning point in this field for years.
In any case, the solution to this great humanitarian, but also social challenge, which is also one for the democratic and social constitutional state, cannot lie in further increasing the attractiveness of this country through open borders, higher social benefits and fewer controls.
Otherwise it will soon be over - also with his willingness to help.