Why we’re not worried about Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel has the shakes, said Nico Fried. Twice in recent days, she’s been caught on film trembling severely. Merkel’s struggle to control her body was clear to all, “as if yielding to weakness were incompatible with her understanding of the office.” Following the first episode, Merkel said she had simply been dehydrated. After the second, she said the trembles were psychosomatic, that she was so afraid of shaking that she shook. Few German media outlets have speculated about her condition, because we all know that Merkel doesn’t owe us an explanation. Although she has “a lifestyle that would make fitness coaches frown”—packed with grand working dinners, late nights, and little time for exercise—the 64-year-old has “the constitution of a horse.” Merkel has had almost no sick days during her 13 years as chancellor. And when she won a fourth term in 2017, she pledged to remain in office for the full four years, if her strength permitted. Implicit in that pledge was “the promise to quit if the need became apparent.” Merkel has proved that she takes her job, and the public trust, seriously, and we can rely on her to know her limits. In return, the chancellor can rely on us to respect her privacy.