Friday, November 7, 2008

Pascal Riché on Bush

Pascal Riché ponders President Bush's disastrous bilan--worth a read. There are some excellent aperçus. I particularly liked this passage (despite the misspelling of Houston):

Ce jour-là, à Austin, le gouverneur du Texas n'était pas là, il était quelque part sur les routes de la campagne. Une de ses proches collaboratrices m'a ouvert son bureau. Elle m'a laissé un moment seul à l'intérieur. J'ai un souvenir très précis du mobilier, qui m'avait frappé: c'était celui d'une chambre d'enfant.

Des tableaux représentant des scènes de western; un fauteuil entièrement fait de cornes de vaches; une armoire vitrée contenant des dizaines de balles de baseball dédicacées, ainsi que le maillot jaune de Lance Armstrong. Et un portrait de Sam Huston, président de la République du Texas, puis sénateur des Etats-Unis, enveloppé dans une sorte de toge. J'avais interrogé mon hôtesse sur ce drôle de tableau: "Le gouverneur l'aime, car il lui rappelle qu'on peut avoir eu des problèmes de boisson et être un grand homme", m'avait-elle répondu sans ambages. Ce que je prenais pour une toge était en réalité une serviette: Sam Huston, sur ce tableau, est en cure de désintoxication.

Symbolism

Much has been made of the potent symbolism of America's election of a black man as president. The news has caught attention around the world. A new president's every move has symbolic significance, however. On day 2 after his election, Obama is meeting with economic advisors to take stock in the face of the deluge of bad economic news. On day 2 after the election of Sarkozy, he was basking in the sun on a borrowed yacht in the Mediterranean.

Georgia Redux

For the va-t-en-guerre who never doubted that something other than resurgent Russian imperial ambitions might be behind the August flareup in the Caucasus, this makes sobering reading. It doesn't seem to have hit the front pages yet in France. Perhaps Le Monde is still relying on the eyewitness testimony of its crackerjack special correspondent, BHL. May the Times' diligent spade work encourage them to send real reporters next time.

Sovereign Investment and National Security

Nicolas Véron and Lars-Hendrik Röller review the issue from a European point of view.

From Euphoria to Depression

Yes, Obama is still president-elect, but the U.S. economy lost 240,000 jobs last month, retail sales have collapsed, Paul Krugman sees Japan-style liquidity trap and 0 interest rate ahead, and the Chinese finance minister has rushed home from Peru to deal with the crisis.

And Europe in all this? And France? Look for another cut in ECB rate soon. I expect that by the time of the G20 meeting later this month, Obama will have named his Treasury secretary (my guess: Tim Geithner). He will be looking for European and Asian interlocutors. With all due respect to Sarkozy and Lagarde, I don't think they fit the profile (lawyers by training, their specialty is dressing up the bottom line, not calculating it). Gordon Brown, an old hand at Exchequer, is a much more likely partner, and more in tune with American ways. Sarkozy's effort to erect a Franco-American Special Relationship may founder, as so many fond hopes have foundered, in the economic maelstrom. Of course there may be someone at a lower level in the French hierarchy, a technician of genius, a French Keynes, who could help the new American administration think through its dilemma. I don't know who that might be. Perhaps some knowledgeable reader does. (To be sure, in back of DSK at IMF there is chief economist Olivier Blanchard, but he works for the IMF, not for France.)

Obama vu des banlieues parisiennes

Here.

Le Bordel

What is the lead? That la gazelle (but don't forget Collomb!) squeaked past le bulldozer du Nord and le tocard (as Panafieu called him) de Paris? Or that Hamon, the left-wing insurgent, came close to parity with the Big 3? Or that Mélenchon and Dolez, the even lefter left, quit the party in a huff (but gave no indication of throwing in their lot with Besancenot)? Or that the geographic distribution of the vote, with Royal blowing away the opposition in Bouches-du-Rhône and Collomb assuring her a comfortable majority in Lyon, could signal a shift in the party's priorities? Or that Hamon's condition for his support is "no alliance with MoDem," demonstrating real political flair: the PS must declare in advance to the centrist voters whose support it needs to win the presidency that it has no use for them and will not countenance their ideas? Or that, as Kirk points out in a comment to a previous message, nearly half the militants of the party, presumably its most enthusiastic supporters, didn't even bother to vote in the leadership contest?

Situation normal chez les Socialistes. I hope Michel Rocard doesn't have a stroke.