It’s interesting to compare across cultures how politicians run into trouble from their personal behavior. In the USA having an affair can get you into hot water. In France, not a big deal. The ultimate no-no for American politicians may be saying you’re an atheist. Lately in Germany, it’s been plagiarism that has gotten two of Angela Merkel’s ministers into trouble. Two years ago, the wonderfully named Karl-Theodor von und zu Guttenberg was forced to resign from being Minister of Defense after it was discovered that he had plagiarized passages in his Ph.D. dissertation. At the time he was the most popular politician in Germany. Now, the current Minister of Education, Annette Schavan, has been found by a university panel to be guilt of plagiarism in her Ph.D. thesis. It’s particular troublesome, as she oversees German universities.
For German politicians having advanced academic degree can be a big plus (unless , of course, they’re caught cheating). That’s quite a difference from the U.S. where politicians don’t want to be labeled intellectual eggheads. George W. Bush promoted himself by talking up his Texas roots, not his ivy league degrees.