Friday, November 6, 2009

Remembering the Fall of the Wall

Various political figures remember their sentiments on learning that the Berlin Wall had come down. I share Bruno Le Maire's reaction: I wasn't sure what it would mean. A divided world had been such a part of my inner landscape for my entire life that I couldn't quite grasp its sudden disappearance. Six months later I visited Berlin for the first time. The East German government still clung to a nominal existence, and there was still a border to cross at the Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn station. The guards went through the motions. I was glad to have seen the last embers, and at another point to have touched the graffiti-covered wall, parts of which still stood. When I returned nearly two decades later, Friedrichstrasse was all glass and steel, the Alexanderplatz was no longer quite so bleak a declaration of Soviet aesthetics, and the Cold War had become un lieu de mémoire. It's hard to convey to my children what it was all about.

To See Ourselves as Others See Us

Bernard Girard offers some wise words on the so-called identity debate:

Ce n'est évidemment pas en nous regardant dans un miroir que nous trouverons notre identité, c'est en écoutant ce que les autres, ceux qui nous regardent de l'extérieur, ont à nous dire sur ce que nous sommes. Si traits communs il y a, seuls des regards étrangers peuvent le discerner. Nous en sommes incapables, sauf à penser qu'être Français se résume à quelques imbécilités jusqu'alors réservées aux supporters des clubs de foot et de rugby, genre Marseillaise, drapeau et coq gaulois.

Sarkozy at midterm: a British look

A reader suggested this assessment from the FT of where Sarko stands:

Perhaps it is no surprise that disillusionment is setting in at his term’s halfway stage. It is even more understandable as the reforms going through parliament strike at the heart of lawmakers’ vested interests. But there may be more to the unruliness than mere mid-term malaise or difficult reform. In truth, Mr Sarkozy seems to be falling victim to the contradictions he has created in his reform programme and in his style of government.

Cruel

Martine Aubry as portrayed by Le Figaro:

«Nous ne devons pas être systématiquement dans la réponse aux polémiques. Je ne veux pas faire de la politique en tirant des balles, même sur les adversaires. Nous ne voulons pas être les plus grands dénonciateurs de la droite, mais être les meilleurs…» Martine Aubry cherche le mot qui lui échappe, elle se tourne à droite à gauche en quête d'inspiration. Puis elle reprend, sans être tout à fait assurée de son choix : «Mais être les meilleurs proposants de la société que nous voulons mettre en place.» Et quand on lui demande si elle se considère comme la première opposante à Nicolas Sarkozy, elle hésite. «Si cela veut dire faire des propositions…», répond-elle.


This is a cruel portrait, with a tone that comes close to the gutter-sniping of Fox News in the United States. Not out of character for Le Figaro. Still, one does wish that Aubry would just propose something rather than announce that she is about to.