"Les Français à force d'immigration incontrôlée ont parfois le sentiment de ne plus être chez eux, ou bien ils ont le sentiment de voir des pratiques qui s'imposent à eux et qui ne correspondent pas aux règles de notre vie sociale", a-t-il lancé. "Nos compatriotes veulent choisir leur mode de vie, ils ne veulent pas qu'on leur impose un mode de vie", a insisté le ministre.
This is about as raw and crude as it gets. Next thing you know, we'll be hearing about sheep being slaughtered in bathtubs and unpleasant smells in staircases. The suggestion that Guéant was dispatched to make sure that the "debate" about laïcité would suffer no dérapages now seems off base. Clearly, he is going to make things worse, whether by design or by clumsiness. This will be disastrous.
It's interesting in this light to read Gérard Grunberg's comments on the UMP's dilemma, which he compares to the dilemma of the SFIO at the beginning of the Fifth Republic. I don't think this is quite right. The SFIO's problem was structural, whereas I think that the UMP's is conjunctural--to a greater extent at least than Grunberg seems willing to admit. His analysis in general strikes me as somewhat strained, which perhaps accounts for the fact that it also seems less clear and more convoluted than most of his commentary. Still, it's worth pondering, if only for the suggestion that while many of us were worrying about the historic demise of social democracy, we were neglecting the concomitant decline of what I am tempted to call "the rational right." In the US, this process has gone very far indeed, resulting in impasse, paralysis, and a self-destructive spiral that leaves the state unable to govern rationally and hence vulnerable to the mindless mantra pioneered by the Great Communicator: "Government is not the solution, government is the problem."
France had been protected to some extent from similar degeneration, despite decades of feckless political leadership, by a tradition of government service as a high calling. Men and women of talent did not hesitate to become functionaries and were prepared for their roles by rigorous training and ruthless selection. But the politicization of the civil service and the lure of big money in the private sector have taken a toll. Claude Guéant is a graduate of the ENA, but he was drawn into the orbit of Charles Pasqua early in his career and then gravitated toward Nicolas Sarkozy. Now that he has been unleashed in a political role, we see that when forced to shed the circumspection of the énarque working behind the scenes as an éminence grise, he has absorbed the worst instincts of his two political mentors. His metamorphosis is a symptom of the degradation of the core of the French state.