The timing is interesting: The New York Times today has a quite laudatory profile of Alain Juppé, highlighting his contrast with Nicolas Sarkozy. Only yesterday Juppé himself revealed that he sometimes "dreams with his eyes open" about the possibility that some "surprise" might make him president. With many on the Right grumbling more or less publicly, especially after the Senate loss last Sunday, that Sarkozy is going to pull down the house around him, many are hoping for just such a divine surprise.
Of course we are seeing similar rumblings in the US as one Republican candidate after another stumbles out of the box. As the Rick Perry boomlet subsides, now we have a Chris Christie boomlet. And in France we have an Alain Juppé boomlet. Have the '95 strikes been forgotten already? The felony conviction? To be sure, Juppé mellowed somewhat while in Canadian exile, but the opposition can dredge up any number of Marie-Antoinette style "Let them eat cake!" pronouncements from his past. He may look like an ideal candidate for the moment simply because he is not Nicolas Sarkozy, speaks impeccable French, has a rapier wit, and displays Normalien precision in discussing any number of dossiers. Steven Erlanger says that the French can overlook these qualités because he has the redeeming défaut of dullness, which makes him un homme sérieux. On the contrary, he is the ultimate énarque, the man who knows better about absolutely everything. He might make an excellent president, but as a candidate I think he would quickly look like St. Sebastian.