So, to recap: first Laurent Wauquiez calls the "idle poor" a "cancer on society" and says they ought to do 5 hours of public service a week in exchange for their mess of pottage from the RSA; then Fillon jumps all over him; and now Nicolas Sarkozy publicly rebukes him for straying off the reservation (his bailiwick is European affairs, not social policy) and ignoring the "collective interest" (of the government, to be sure, not the citizenry, also ignored, not to say scorned), although it was rumored that he had been floating this trial balloon with Sarko's tacit approval.
Now what is strange about this incident is that Wauquiez is no dummy (ENS, reçu major in the agrégation histoire, major of his promotion at ENA, and even a year at Harvard). So why would a bright boy go out of his way to raise a controversial issue like this for no particular reason? We know that folks on the right don't like the assistanat in general or the RSA in particular, but it was, after all, a key Sarkozyan initiative back in the heady days of l'ouverture, so if you're going to shoot it down you ought to have your facts straighter than Wauquiez had them. Currying favor with the UMP base for a future run at something? Maybe, but this doesn't seem like the smartest strategy, and, as I say, Wauquiez is a smart fellow. Maybe he really believes that the poor are a cancer on society. Or maybe we aren't getting the full story here. I tend to believe the latter.