Sunday, February 20, 2011

Raffarin on DSK

Jean-Pierre Raffarin says he doesn't think DSK is the "most dangerous" of Sarkozy's rivals because he has a "profile rather to the right of the center of gravity of today's Left." He may be right, despite the current polls. So who would be the most dangerous opponent? JPR doesn't say, but if the "center-of-gravity" metaphor is taken seriously, I think it might be François Hollande. In fact, I would be at all surprised to see Hollande emerge as a compromise candidate, the least objectionable to all factions. Assuming that DSK doesn't storm his way to success within minutes of making a formal announcement, which is apparently his hope. As I've said repeatedly, I think that may be a miscalculation on his part.

Who would make a better president, DSK or FH? That's a different question. I wasn't much of a fan of FH as a party leader, but his defects in that post might become virtues in a consensus-building presidency. And DSK might be too much of an economist, too little a politician, and just a bit too intellectually arrogant for a president in the televisual age. (Sarkozy's arrogance is of a different kind: it invites identification with his combativeness, whereas DSK's makes the listener feel ignorant. Remember Mitterrand's "je ne suis votre élève"--one of the most effective debate retorts ever).


Anonymous said...

FH has an avuncular style that made him very popular with the party members, but he's also weak and wishy washy. Bipartisanship would serve him well as a ruler but may hobble him as a candidate.

DSK spoke well tonight, walking the tightrope with shrewdness; he tried to erase the impression he wasn't close to "real people", but only partially succeeded.
To my ear he sounded smart and above-it-all, but he didn't sound very genuine, rather very political, pushing his audience's buttons - such as when he sounded like he'd discovered poverty by quoting this week's Marianne about 1/4th people making less than €750 a month; I wish he'd had a little story about it to show how close he was to people, whether he's ever met someone in that situation... But French people may not have had the same expectations.

He said his job was to give advice to all heads of states (take that, Sarko) and sounded regal. He's got a good voice too.

Unfortunately there was a problem when some of his main points couldn't be understood by his audience and he failed to grasp that what he was saying was unintelligible.
(This may have been more acute here due to the fact I live in an area where 2/3 people don't have a bac, but even those who do are unlikely to understand the word he chose to use.)
This is underscored in the article below -
When a mainstream paper feels the need to translate a word used by an interviewee - a word he used many times, eliciting raised eyebrows "what's he talking about?" - then he wasn't so close to "real people". Being understood by broad segments of the population is a major necessity and it seems like a fauxpas when one wants to sound approachable and in sync with people's interests to use terms virtually no French person's ever heard of.*
cf.: "On a été trop concentré sur la macro-économie (=la croissance, le déficit), pas assez sur le chômage ou la distribution des inégalités", dit-il à propos du Maghreb" - a quote from L'Express which is titling, perhaps ironically " DSK takes care of people's problems".

* By this I mean the ES bac graduates + those who attended science po or law school + those with an economics degree. That'd be less than 10% in the population, if that.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

I heard him and thought he was pretty good. And, my word, if you can't use "macroeconomics" without losing your audience, then maybe you need to lose your audience now and then.

Mark said...

DSK was not bad on France 2. I thought he was somewhat credible when he got a bit excited, saying that politicians should do what they were elected to do rather than worry exclusively about the coming elections. The jab at the disconnection of macroeconomic management style of politics from the street seemed also somewhat encouraging. Of course it's easy to say. However, he's so much brighter than Sarko, obviously so, and he's a personal style that's more sympa and reassuring. He comes across as the grown up that Sarko isn't. If DSK can avoid consistently avoid bullying and condescending, playing up the big roly poly warm side of his personality, that may win him a lot of support.