Monday, April 13, 2009

Things Are Looking Up

Via Political Animal:

Research 2000 conducted a poll for Daily Kos gauging public attitudes about San Francisco, New York City, France, and Europe in general. Both San Francisco and New York both enjoy broad favorable numbers, but I was especially interested in the other parts of the poll.

* "Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the country of France?"

Overall, 61% of Americans have a favorable impression of the U.S. ally, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. The favorable impression was strong in the Northeast, West, and Midwest, and the only constituency with an unfavorable opinion of France was Southerners.

Regretting the Good Old Days ...

French license plates will soon lose their geographic referent. Provincials will no longer be able to sneer at les sales Parisiens simply on the basis of their plates (no doubt other distinguishing traits will remain). Children will have to find a new way to while away the time on long journeys. What's next? Pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon instead of estate names? Regretting the good old days is surely a sign of aging, but there was a certain undeniable romance in the old plates, no?

Obamans Educate French Minorities

Obama campaign aides went to Paris under the auspices of the French-American Foundation to give tips to French minority politicians on how to make headway. But the pupils were pessimistic, and "diversity czar" (dixit The Times) Yazid Sabeg singled out le cumul des mandats as the single greatest reason for the lack of hope. The reasoning is that no space opens up at the local level for young minority politicians to make their mark and move onto the national stage because local posts are monopolized by an older generation that already holds power at the national level.

I think it's correct that minorities organize first at the local level before commanding power nationally. Still, Sabeg's argument connotes a strange passivity on the part of French minorities. It's as if they're waiting for power to be bestowed on them. Then they'll organize, using the state resources that become available to officeholders. This has things backwards. Power is rarely bestowed unless the bestowers have some reason to give up part of what they already have in order to preserve the rest. Minorities need to organize first outside the system if they expect to gain a foothold within it. But I'm sure the Obama representatives didn't omit that part of the lesson, even if it didn't come through clearly to all in attendance.