Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Stalinisme Mondain"

I have nothing to say about the flap surrounding Georges-Marc Benamou and his nomination to the Villa Médicis. If I had better antennae in certain rarefied segments of the French cultural universe, I might be tempted to spill a little Saint-Simonian venom on the affair, but I'm afraid I'm too far away to know who is stabbing whom in the back--quite a feat, since everyone involved--ces petits-maîtres à faux-culs--seems to have two faces, the better to watch for blows from behind. Nevertheless, I thought it was worth signaling a phrase that appears in an interview Benamou gave to Le Nouvel Obs: Benamou claims to have been the victim of "le pire stalinisme mondain."

I guess le stalinisme mondain is what you get when la gauche caviar consumes spoiled roe (or is spoiling for a row).

The GMO Debate

Damien Jayat points out some of the benefits of genetically modified organisms, which are all too easily forgotten in the furor of the current debate.

Myopia

As usual, François Hollande is emphasizing short-term tactics at the expense of long-term strategy. Before the municipals, he sought advantage by claiming that the government would announce an austerity policy after the elections. He was right: François Fillon spoke yesterday of the need to cut expenses and implied that the Revenus de Solidarité Active (RSA), Martin Hirsch's baby, might be on the chopping block, along with many other things. But Hollande has now shifted his fire to the budget deficit: "Unlike Germany, France cannot allow itself to run up the deficit. We can no longer settle for Keynesian policies. On this point, there is broad agreement among Socialists." Instead, he wants a rollback of last year's tax package. "Today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes," Hollande now says, sounding like Margaret Thatcher. Or is it John Kerry: "I voted against austerity before I voted for it."

This party line is de bonne guerre, of course. It's a truism to say that if the treasury had the 15 billion euros the tax package cost, the deficit would be 15 billion smaller. Hollande doesn't address the question of whether recovering the 15 billion by repealing the tax package would only make matters worse in the present juncture, however. He doesn't have to, because he knows it won't happen. His job is to wrong-foot the government, and no one can say that he isn't assiduous in doing his job.

LATER: Rue89 has more.