Like Anthony Weiner, German Politician Gives One-Finger Salute

If two politicians on different continents both give an upthrust middle finger to the camera in the same week, is that enough to call it a global trend?

Perhaps we need one more, but here's what we have so far.

First there was failed New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, who, in a rare display of impulsive behavior, expressed his feelings toward a reporter as he left his election night party Tuesday.

Then there's Peer Steinbrueck, a major figure in the Social Democratic Party in Germany, a country preparing for national elections on Sept. 22.

Many Germans are complaining about how boring their national election season has been. But Steinbrueck, the main challenger to Chancellor Angela Merkel, livened things up with a photo published Friday in a major German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

A reporter asked Steinbrueck to answer with gestures rather than words. The newspaper says it's done these kinds of stories, titled "Don't Say Anything," many times before.

But what Steinbrueck did was apparently a first. When asked if he worries about the nasty nicknames he's acquired during the campaign, for example "Problem Peer" or "Peerlusconi" (rhyming with the last name of the controversial former Italian prime minister), Steinbrueck answered with a one-finger salute.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung — with Steinbrueck's blessing — posted the photo on its cover, and another national German newspaper, Bild, also featured the photo on its front page.

Steinbrueck also tweeted a defense of his gesture yesterday, saying: "Straight talk doesn't always need words, like when one is asked constant (rubbish) rather than important questions."

Merkel's political party, meanwhile, declined to comment.

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