It is difficult to imagine that someone will create a hit rap musical around Germany’s veteran Chancellor Angela Merkel. But her historical reputation stands now in parallel to Alexander Hamilton.
The American revolutionary war hero and the founding US treasury secretary has undergone something of a revival in recent years. The hottest stage play of the past decade has brought his legacy to Broadway and beyond. While it is delivered in rap and most of the cast members are people of colour, Hamilton: An American Musical is, in fact, a prolonged civics lesson. It is also a study in moral courage.
Which is why it is salient to the role played by Mrs Merkel last week in forging a €750 billion rescue package for the eurozone economies. It is something that puts Europe back in the top league of global economic influencers.
It also puts a stop on the clamour for a break-up of the European Union – a 27-member bloc – because the paymaster powers have been given to the executive commission in Brussels. Mrs Merkel bore the heavy burden of getting the whole edifice to this point. And nothing fits her so well than the manner in which she is positioned leave the job that she has held since 2005.
By dint of longevity and the powerful forces shaping Europe, she has, in the words of former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, finally surpassed her mentor. Helmut Kohl, the German leader who mentored the East German scientist and pastor’s daughter amid the melee of the Communist collapse, is the man who guided reunification and built the euro from its foundations.
Mr d’Estaing said Mrs Merkel had become the historical centre of gravity of Europe by responding to the crisis with appropriate boldness. “It is rare for a personality to perform functions desired and expected by the population,” he wrote last week. “This is the case, for Germany.”
The German leader, 66, has shown courage before. There was the 2008 financial crisis when the Europeans collectively saw the weakest nations through the debt crisis. She acted alone and with foresight in 2015 to declare a "willkommen" – or welcoming – policy for more than one million Syrians and Iraqis.
Through it all, there have been plenty of detractors who picked the resentments caused by her policies and highlighted the black marks. There have been plenty of half-measures throughout her career. Coalition politics have essentially seen her government vacillate between centre-left and centre-right policies. For much of the time, there has been not much to make an exciting musical subplot.
She is not running for re-election next year but the baggage of Germany’s militaristic past has not been tackled. For all its manufacturing prowess and enormous wealth, Germany remains a diplomatic middleweight. It makes no choices that aren't either forged by conventional wisdom or forced on it. Unwilling to cause waves, it actively seeks the path of least resistance. Its massive resources are not employed to stand up a military capable of force projection, never mind provide regional leadership.
However, the working out of the bailout fund has required Hamiltonian determination.
Hamilton was one of America's founding fathers who helped forge the union of states. But until he found a way to absorb the debt borne by the American War of Independence from 1775 to 1783, the balance was decidedly against the federal governments. Once the power of the chequebook resided in the national government, the US as a world power was born.
It took courage because the instincts of the federal fathers lay with the states' right to supremacy. But with external financial events pressing in 1790, including foreign debt, Hamilton took the necessary leap.
The ideas behind the EU deal were alien to Mrs Merkel as recently as April, when the French President Emmanuel Macron began lobbying for the rich European states to fund the recovery of the most fragile members.
More than half the money is going to countries like Italy as grants.
The "Frugals", a group within the EU comprising Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden, bitterly opposed the idea of guaranteeing debts that would be handed over to Rome and Madrid without reform conditions. Mark Rutte, the Netherlands Prime Minister and the second-longest-serving European leader after Mrs Merkel, added more demands about the member states' compliance with European basic principles, such as the rule of law. This amounted to a position of trimming the amount on offer, adding external scrutiny and forcing concessions from countries that were on their knees.
It was the way that business was done after 2008, which stoked up much of the populist political crisis engulfing Europe since then. Mrs Merkel therefore fought doughtily against this over five days and nights in Brussels, occasionally losing her temper, but always in tandem with Mr Macron. Since he hopes to take her mantle in the European power pyramid when she goes, it is to be hoped that Mr Macron learned from the masterclass across the meeting rooms.
The deal itself terms it “New Generation EU” and has been launched on a solid economic platform. Mrs Merkel can take a bow.
Damien McElroy is the London bureau chief of The National