In many ways, Richard Grenell was the perfect pick for Trump's ambassador to Germany: a longtime Fox News pundit and John Bolton protege whose vanity and narcissism cause him to lash out constantly (and undiplomatically) at the nation he's meant to be charming, and whose thin-skinned insecurity sends him into spirals of misery and approval-seeking a the first hint of criticism.
Since arriving, Grenell has isolated himself from German politics, leaders and people, advocating regime change in Germany (and violating the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relationships in the process) and devoting his energies to getting face-time on Fox News (the only way to get out-of-sight, out-of-mind Trump to pay attention to you) rather than seeking to influence German politics to coincide with US interests.
The only German political bloc that Grenell has time for (and vice-versa) are the neo-Nazi AfD (he's fond of posing for selfies with AfD leadership) and the xenophobic Christian Social Union.
A deeply reported profile in Speigel paints a picture of an isolated, irrelevant figure who is only invited to functions when it would be impossible to exclude him, where he stands alone in a corner, looking awkward.
They contrast Grenell with his predecessor, Obama pick Philip Murphy, who had to rent out the Olympic stadium for his farewell party, and who had immeasurable influence on German policy during his tenure.
Grenell epitomizes Trumpian values: one part contempt for the reality-based community, one part naked racism, and two parts total administrative incompetence.
Reading the profile, you get the impression of the kind of prepper who envisions himself riding out the end of the world while ruling over a kingdom of subservient concubines, toiling field-hands and stone-faced praetorian guards; but who actually ends up dying of lysteria in the first week after the disaster because he doesn't bother to wash his hands after taking a shit.
Embassy staff made it clear to the ambassador that it would be counterproductive to set up an official meeting with the AfD. But Grenell isn't shy about consorting with the right wing. In early September, he was a guest at an annual dinner held by the Achse des Guten, or Axis of Good, a blog run by the journalists Henryk M. Broder and Dirk Maxeiner that sees itself as a counterbalance to the allegedly left-wing mainstream media. It offers an intellectual home to Islamophobes, Merkel-haters and EU-skeptics.
The event took place in Berlin's Moabit neighborhood, in a historic tram depot now filled with classic cars. The audience listening to Grenell's address that evening included Thilo Sarrazin, infamous for authoring a bitingly critical book about Islam in Germany, and the former East German human rights activist Vera Lengsfeld, who left the CDU out of hatred for Merkel and now supports the AfD.
Such appearances have not been well-received in political Berlin. In late October, he sent out invitations to a Halloween party at his residence in the tony neighborhood of Dahlem. The theme for the evening was "super heroes." Grenell invited several prominent Berlin political figures, but many politicians declined to attend.
One of the most prominent invitees who did choose to attend was Henryk M. Broder from the Axis of Good. He came dressed as a Muslim woman in a burka.
Trump's Ambassador Finds Few Friends in Germany [Konstantin von Hammerstein/Spiegel]