Saturday, December 6, 2008

Speak Softly and Wear a White Scarf

Braving Chinese threats, Nicolas Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama. His words toward China were rather conciliatory. China's rhetoric in recent days has been more muted as well. So now that this symbolic Rubicon has been crossed, perhaps Sarko can get down to the business of defining what French policy on Tibet actually is. The Dalai Lama says he doesn't want independence. Sarkozy has no intention of challenging Chinese sovereignty. Jawboning has its limits, but France is now in a position to act as intermediary. The president's gesture showed that he was willing to pay a price--albeit a rather small one--for principle. It may even have earned him a little respect from China. Now he needs to demonstrate resourcefulness in making something of that gain and proving that his purpose wasn't merely to bolster his macho street cred back on the block.

No Healing in PS

Martine Aubry announced the new leadership of the PS today, and two things are clear: treachery pays, and there has been no healing or even temporary patching up since the disastrous Reims Congress. Benoît Hamon becomes party spokesperson, a reward for his last-minute rallying. Cambadélis, who bolted from his supposed alliance with Moscovici, takes over Moscovici's job as national secretary for European and international affairs. Montebourg, who also flirted with Mosco for a time, becomes national secretary for renovation. Harlem Désir is responsible for "coordination" (good luck). Pascal François Lamy and Michel Sapin are in; the Royalistes are left out in the cold. Early signs of reconciliation have vanished.

Slump Hits Brit Expats

Charles Bremner reports that the slump has hit the British expatriate community in France quite hard, and many are moving back to Britain.

Ségo's Sin

It seems that Ségolène Royal was booed at the Reims Congress for uttering the following line at the end of her speech:

Nous sommes le socialisme, levons nous, vertu et courage, car nous rallumerons tous les soleils, toutes les étoiles du ciel.

The reason for the boos was explained by militants to Jean Bauberot: "We can't stand this tele-evangelist rhetoric, which is offensive to our laïque culture."

The problem, Bauberot points out, is that the offending passage is taken not from a tele-evangelist but from socialist founding father Jean Jaurès. Bauberot's analysis, though long-winded, is worth reading in its entirety.