Friday, February 18, 2011

Crescendo

Le timing, as they say in French, could not have been better. Dominique Strauss-Kahn landed in Paris for the G20 just as a new poll was published putting him ahead of Sarkozy 61-39 in the second round of the 2012 presidential election. I am reminded, however, of the adage of American presidential politics that goes like this: "Whom the gods would destroy they make the frontrunner." DSK has nowhere to go but down, and down he will surely go once he gets into the race. But the new poll does suggest that the Right's effort to paint the IMF head as the representative of the "ultra-caviar" Left, outsider, Jew, capitalist tool, etc., has only boosted his ratings.

These really are rather foolish, if obvious, taunts coming from the party of Sarkozy and Copé, but, hey, any port in a storm. Sarkozy's problem in the end will be not to widen the gap that already exists between DSK and the left of the Left but rather to differentiate himself from DSK, whose basic view of the economy is not so different from his, but whom voters are likely to choose as the more competent of the two in achieving his ends. That, too, may be an illusion, but Sarkozy knows better than anyone that elections are won by appearances, not realities. And he will remember better than anyone that, in order to win in 2007, he had to differentiate himself from Chirac, whom in many respects he resembled, by investing familiar formulas with a sense of renewed energy and can-do-it pragmatism. In 2012, DSK will be the challenger, a position that offers certain advantages in a period of serious voter discontentment.

5 comments:

Mark said...

There have been explicit antisemitic jibes at DSK? Can you link to it/them?

Arthur Goldhammer said...

I've alluded to these over the past few days. Christian Jacob, Copé assistant, said that DSK "n'est pas à l'image de la France des terroirs, des territoires, la France que j'aime," which is an almost verbatim quote of something Xavier Vallat, the notorious commissioner for the Jewish Question under Vichy, said about Léon Blum. Of course Jacob, who is not the sharpest pencil in the box, may not have known this and may merely have meant that Sarcelles is not in Corrèze, in which case we would have nothing to reproach him for. It wasn't I who raised the charge of anti-Semitism; it was various political figures of the Left and even the Right who thought Jacob was out of line.

Mark said...

Thank you.

That's some remark, notable not only for its fatuousness (since it will do Jacob and his friends more harm than DSK) but also for its atavism. It's got such a dated ring to it. Furthermore it's pretentious; as it left his lips he was probably patting himself on the back for being so poetic.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

To say nothing of the fact that it describes Sarkozy and Copé as well as DSK: Neuilly is as far from Corrèze as Sarcelles.

Anonymous said...

I doubt he meant it as an antisemitic jab: even if he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, he would know better than to be antisemitic on radio J.