Sunday, January 6, 2008

Putsch Under Way at Le Monde?

Marianne alleges that the recent resignation of the newly installed management team at Le Monde is in fact part of a putsch intended to deliver the paper into the hands of ("friend of Sarkozy," "my brother") Arnaud Lagardère. Éric Fottorino has now rescinded his resignation, but his two colleagues persist. The journalists' society, which holds a substantial number of shares in the paper, meets tomorrow.

"Real Presence"

Boris Jamet-Fournier reviews Philippe Guibert's La Téléprésidente. There can be no doubt that television has altered the relation between candidates and people. The exact nature of the communion remains difficult to elucidate. There is a temptation to describe it in religious terms, as if television possessed an occult power to transform the representative of the people into the intercessor of the individual: "The obligatory television appearance is nevertheless the 'real presence,'" as Jamet-Fournier puts it. "Emotion in the expression, symbolism in the content."

The American presidential campaign has reached this stage of transmogrification in recent days, and the phenomenon is, as always, both miraculous and alarming to behold. One can almost see the aureole emerging behind Barack Obama's head. Of course it may not last. The supernatural illusion can be, and almost always is, transitory. It takes very little to destroy it. But to deny its power while it lasts is to mistake the nature of politics in this supposedly disenchanted age. The very disenchantment creates a yearning for transcendence.

The convergence of politics and religion, which the French press seems to believe is limited to the United States, may take a variety of forms, but wherever it emerges it tends to unbalance balanced constitutions. The outsized presidency is not a creation of Sarkozy alone. Incarnation is an essential function of the executive in any government where powers are separated. When it fails, the cosmos remains too complex for most to grasp. To the voter who wants to believe and not simply to delegate, television serves the same purpose as light in the Gothic cathedral according to Abbé Suger: it is the vehicle that manifests the presence of that in which belief is to be invested.

Degree Zero

I'm afraid that this is the degree zero of blogging, folks, but all I can think of to write about today is Sarko's approval rating, down from 55 to 48 in one month, according to Le Parisien. Oh, and the happy couple plans to wed. Any connection between these two factoids? Some analysts seem to think so, on the grounds that the drop in the president's popularity is highest in the 65+ age group, which is said to be more disturbed by the saga of presidential tomcatting than others. The reasoning here seems rather dubious, to say the least.

Another factoid: 23 of 33 ministers and secretaries are running in the municipals.