I've been meaning since last week to say a word about La France en libertés surveillés, announced with great fanfare by Marie-Pierre de la Gontrie. It is supposed to be the PS's "livre noir" on Sarkozy, meant to be reminiscent of le Livre noir du communisme that came out more than a decade ago but directed now against Sarkozy rather than the Gulag. I haven't hesitated to criticize Sarkozy on matters of individual right when I thought it warranted, but I also haven't hesitated to criticize the amalgames that I think have been abundant on the left on this score, along with a certain amount of paranoia and demagoguery, the latest example of which is Martine Aubry's preamble to last week's release, according to which Sarkozy's government is "un pouvoir omniscient [qui] s'acharne à écorner les principes qui fondent le coeur de notre pacte républicain." Now Marc Cohen has saved me the trouble by exposing the hyperbole of the Gontrie report.
Cohen links the left's eagerness to see assaults on liberty even where they are not to its zeal to avoid realities for which it either has no solutions or quietly acquiesces in the solutions proposed by the right. "L’ambition générale est d’ériger le tout-répressif sarkozyste en catégorie philosophique," writes Cohen. "On est sidéré de voir à quel point la gauche incapable – et peu désireuse – de se frotter au sarkozysme idéologique, en particulier en ce qu’il a de novateur à droite, préfère cibler l’homme, foncièrement pervers et forcément pétri de mauvaises intentions."
Yes, there's a lot of truth in this, and it's a sin of which I'm often guilty myself. No question about it: Sarko is a flawed president. But his flaws will neither win the presidency for the left nor justify a left victory in the absence of a coherent program. Sarkozy's France is less of a police state and less of an authoritarian regime than de Gaulle's, and the left will not frighten voters into voting it back into power by attempting to paint it otherwise.