According to Frédéric Martel's deliciously ironic review, Patrick Mennucci describes himself as the Karl Rove of Ségolène Royal's campaign--a rather masochistic self-description, since Rove's only discernable virtue is to have elected an incompetent twice, whereas Mennucci can claim only to have failed to elect an incompetent once. Lest you find the description of the candidate as "incompetent" harsh, I leave the responsibility to Mennucci himself: "The French deemed our proposals not to be credible--quite simply because they weren't." Of this Martel dryly remarks: "But Patrick Mennucci is Marseillais. He is likable. He always exaggerates."
There are revelations. Mennucci directly contradicts Lionel Jospin's claim not to have attempted to block the Royal candidacy. It was not for lack of trying that he failed, according to Mennucci, whose flair for the devastating vignette may owe more to his ghost writer's talent than to his own: at dinner after a meeting in Marseilles, Jospin broached only three subjects: "The quality of Maussane olive oil in the Alpilles, the temperature of the Mediterranean, and the Château-Simone appellation Palette, which he rightly regards as the best wine of the Bouches-du-Rhône."
As for the failure of the campaign, Mennucci avers that Royal's strategy was "not complex": she expected that Sarkozy would be defeated by his own personality, a belief her manager claims was shared by all the Socialist leaders. Coming from the self-styled Karl Rove of the campaign, this is a rather damaging admission. Rove would not have left it to an opponent to blacken his own name. He would have found ways to assist the self-destruction. He also says that the Royalistes expected that Sarko would be held accountable for the failures of the Chirac regime in which he served. Again, one wants to ask why the Socialist candidate didn't do more to hold him accountable, rather than count on the maladroitness of a rival who in the event proved more nimble than his detractors imagined.
Martel's review seems to extract the marrow from the book and obviate the need for actually reading it, a prospect that is made less than enticing by this nugget of southern French wisdom:
Le livre s’éternise et il devient tellement long qu’on aurait le temps, le lisant, de tuer un âne à coups de figues (autre expression du sud).
I will remember the expression tuer un âne à coups de figues , I suspect, longer than I will remember the Royal campaign.