No, it’s not a scandal. If the Federal Minister of Defense takes her 21-year-old son on an official flight in a Bundeswehr helicopter, she is not breaking any laws. What Christine Lambrecht did was within the rules. However, not everything that is legally correct turns out to be politically wise.
This is how the FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann evaluated the process. The chairman of the Bundestag’s Defense Committee, who is respected across party lines, hit the spot.
It’s about credibility. It’s about the impression that the public has of the personal style and demeanor of the men and women who govern Germany. In a phase that many people perceive as a historical turning point in view of the war in Ukraine, the citizens are taking a closer look than usual. A minister’s Easter trip to Sylt can be a turning point in the assessment of a personality, even a policy will.
The now 21-year-old son of Minister Christine Lambrecht accompanied his mother on business trips when she was Minister of Justice. Between seven and 13 such appointments are mentioned. Aircraft of the flight readiness or the Bundeswehr was always ready.
A member of the government may do so under the applicable rules. This includes charging a contribution towards the cost of the flight. This seems to have happened here in all cases. There are conflicting reports as to whether the bills have been paid.
If the son were eleven years old instead of 21, nobody would bother with the subject. How nice when a minister who is overburdened with appointments due to her job can take her child on such a trip. Far too few of our leading politicians can report from their own experience how difficult it is to take care of their daughters and sons.
But Christine Lambrecht’s son is not eleven, but 21. At that age, traveling on his mother’s plane comes as a surprise. At 21 you’re more likely to travel alone, and then by train. You can also post photos like this on Instagram. But one can also have doubts about the whole alleged purpose of the trip to the coast.
A completely insignificant location for the Bundeswehr as the destination of a business trip before Easter, but with the undeniable geographical advantage of being very close to the holiday island of Sylt. If there is a “Gschmäckle”, as CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt smugly registered, then it is probably there to smell.
Whereby: Because of Gschmäckle. The criticism of Lambrecht’s travel behavior also has a party-political dimension. The excitement, which sometimes seems quite artificial, is a nice Christian social diversionary maneuver.
There is enough of a bad smell of its own: dubious dealings with corona masks, disreputable handling of the toll issue, too many external contributions in doctoral theses, fits of rage and threats towards uncomfortable journalists. All in all, it’s more of a stench than a taste.
This brings us back to Christine Lambrecht. Their self-confidence is significantly more pronounced than their competence as Federal Minister of Defence. Olaf Scholz’s decision to have her as head of the defense department was probably primarily about meeting the quota for women in the cabinet; the 56-year-old was known as an awake lawyer from the previous post.
If the chancellor could have foreseen that a terrible war would shake central Europe, he would have had to make a completely different choice for this post. Today he no longer has it. A reshuffle at the post of defense minister would inevitably have a signal effect far beyond the German borders.
But mother Lambrecht should give the son a Bahncard.