Friday, March 12, 2010

Glenn Beck: Villepin Is a Fascist

For Glenn Beck, Europe is headed for extremism of the left or right. Sarkozy (a "center-rightist") is going down, and Villepin, whom Beck sees as the leader of the "extreme right," is headed for power. A curious fantasy. I wonder who concocted it. At the end of the clip, Beck calls upon the legions of Fox viewers to keep an eye on European "fringe groups" like Villepin's, because Fox doesn't have the staff. Good thing Beck's on the job. No passaran!

Europe may have its "fringe groups," but as you can see, in the United States the lunatic fringe is in control of the most popular of our cable news networks.

Reducing Tensions

Figaro Magazine advanced its publication date to Friday in order to allow this special interview with Nicolas Sarkozy time to soak in before Sunday's regional elections. In it, Sarko reflects on his role as president:

En revanche, le sentiment que le président de la République oublie les considérations partisanes au moment où il choisit les personnes qu'il doit nommer, qu'il le fait avec l'exclusive préoccupation de leur compétence contribue à apaiser les tensions toujours à l'œuvre dans un pays comme la France, où les mouvements sociaux peuvent être violents, parce qu'il y existe une tradition de luttes sociales et idéologiques forte. Mon rôle est d'apaiser les tensions pour pouvoir engager les réformes trop longtemps différées.  

This is an interesting rationale, and one that we haven't heard before, as far as I know. Sarkozy used to speak of himself as an actor--the actor--who could effect reform by sheer energy and force of will. Now he describes himself rather as a pacifier, who creates the conditions for reform by preventing the French from giving into their tradition of contentiousness and even violence. He defines success down:

Est-ce un hasard si, depuis trois ans, il n'y a pas eu de drames ni de violence ?

This is reminiscent of shifting American goals in various foreign wars. Maybe we didn't achieve what we wanted, but at least the level of violence is down. But I don't recall violence or even strong ideological difference as the problem with Chirac's presidency, which Sarkozy promised to resolve. It was rather stalemated structural reform, with key interest groups at loggerheads. They still are, although there has been movement around the edges.  And if Sarko has avoided 2005-style urban riots, well, I think we have to credit luck rather than policy, since the great Marshall Plan for the Suburbs hasn't yielded much in the way of results.

The Nicolas and Gordon Show

Nicolas Sarkozy would like to see Gordon Brown remain prime minister, and he'd also like to take credit for resolving the dispute between the US and the EU over the regulation of hedge funds. So he and Brown met today and put on a good show of solidarity without actually announcing any accord beyond agreement about "how to move forward together." What will Washington and Berlin think of this performance? One might see it as two unpopular leaders trying to throw each other lifelines in advance of pending elections. But voters are unlikely to be much impressed on either side of the Channel. This just isn't the kind of issue that matters, except to the players.