My First Model of Resignations

It's a bit like a conspiracy theory, only without the conspiracy

Out of the blue, German President Horst Köhler resigned yesterday (all emphases mine):
President Horst Köhler of Germany resigned Monday amid a barrage of criticism for remarks he made during a visit to Afghanistan.

It was the first time in four decades that a German president has quit the post, the nation’s highest even though it is largely ceremonial.

Mr. Köhler set off the criticism when he said in an interview with Deutschland Radio, the public broadcasting station, that German soldiers serving in Afghanistan or with other peacekeeping missions were deployed to protect German economic interests.

His resignation was another blow for Chancellor Angela Merkel [...]

“I was very surprised,” Mrs. Merkel said. “We had had a very good cooperation. [...]”

In the radio interview, which was conducted on May 22, Mr. Köhler, a former director of the International Monetary Fund, emphasized the importance of the nation’s economy.

“A country of our size,” he said, “with its focus on exports and thus reliance on foreign trade, must be aware that military deployments are necessary in an emergency to protect our interests, for example, when it comes to trade routes, for example, when it comes to preventing regional instabilities that could negatively influence our trade, jobs and incomes.”

In a short resignation statement delivered alongside his wife, Eva Luise, he said he regretted his remarks and the way he said they were misunderstood. He said he could not remain in office in the face of such intense criticism and loss of confidence.

“I regret that my comments in an important and difficult question for our nation were able to lead to misunderstandings,” Mr. Köhler said.

He complained that some critics had suggested he supported military “missions that are not covered by the Constitution.”

“This criticism lacks any basis,” he said. “It also is lacking in the necessary respect for the presidential office.”

He added, “It was an honor to serve Germany as federal president,” then walked off without taking questions.
Everybody goes, "huh?", but I guess this is explained well by my first model of resignations. Here it is: Don't believe what they say.

First, let's distinguish two kinds of resignations: 1. The unforced ones in which an individual resigns because he wants to. Köhler's appears to be an example of this. 2. The forced ones in which an individual "resigns" before s/he is pushed out by those who have the power to do so.

My first model of resignations works for both of those cases.

A German president doesn't just resign. So Köhler can hardly go and say: "You know what, people? I've worked quite a bit throughout my life and I've come to the conclusion that now I'd rather scratch my balls and watch the telly all day long. Oh, we've got a World Cup coming up, you know? I've already ordered my beer supply." Much better to come up with some nonsense about "respect for the presidential office". What I'm trying to say is that the list of reasons considered "proper" for unforced resignations is short and the list of human motivations is long. Go figure.

In the case of forced resignations, things look similar. For example, in the current climate in US academia, it is acceptable for pushing out a president of a university for suggesting there might be biological contributions to differences in average achievements between the sexes. It is not acceptable to push him out for asking popular African-American university employees what they actually do all day to justify their nonmeagre salaries.

My second model of resignations: Believe what they say. That should have everything covered.

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