Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chirac Convicted

Jacques Chirac received a 2-year suspended sentence for misuse of public funds while mayor of Paris. He is the first French chief of state to be convicted of a crime since Marshal Pétain. The verdict is sadly anticlimactic, coming at a time when most people have forgotten Chirac the ruthless politician and remember only the grandfatherly duffer.

For those who wish to be reminded of the other Chirac, I recommend a TV documentary on the Front National entitled "Le Diable de la République." It features, among other fine moments, the famous speech in which Chirac, pioneering the tactic (now associated with Sarkozy) of poaching on FN territory, delivered a speech attacking immigrants for bringing polygamy, large families, odors, and noise to an otherwise tranquil France.

I knew of this speech, of course, but had never before seen it, since the Internet did not exist in those days, nor was French TV yet available in the US. Seeing it makes it possible to appreciate the tone as well as the words, and in expressing contempt for immigrants Chirac surpasses Sarkozy by a country mile. The irony, of course, is that he was later able to claim victory in 2002 as the anti-Le Pen candidate and defender of French democracy--a pose for which we see a younger Marine Le Pen mercilessly mocking him with a dead-on Chirac imitation worthy of Nicolas Canteloup.

So, when you are inclined to find fault with the judicial system for piling on to a semi-senile 80-yr-old for crimes committed 20 years ago, remember the other Jacques Chirac, and know that in a certain roundabout sense, justice was done.

3 comments:

louis said...

No doubt.

I remembered this speech, and surely Chirac is as much a liability to the credibility of the French political class now as he was before. However, I had the impression that Chirac's only redeeming quality had been his quite clear no to alliance with the FN in the 1980s-1990s, and the clear stand he took on the participation of France as a state in the deportation of Jews and others from France. This is the Chirac Le Pen père called a "nutjob", and who delivered the speech at the vélodrome d'hiver.

As to the tone, Chirac fakes conviction in every circumstances better than Sarkozy.

But yeah, well, anyway. 2 years "avec sursis", right? Good for him.

AlexB said...

For reference, here is that part of the "Le bruit et l'odeur" speech:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7iz_IZoANo
[from 0.28 onwards]

Translation:
"[Take the case of] the french worker who lives in La Goutte d'Or [Parisian neighbourhood], which I visited last week..., who works as well as his wife, and who together earn 15,000 francs, and who sees, on the landing next to his social housing flat, a family piled up on each other, with a father, three or four wives, and about twenty kids, and who earn 50,000 francs in social benefits without actually working. Add to that (1) the noise, and (2) the smell... well, it drives this french worker on the landing crazy. He goes crazy, that's how it is. And one has to understand him... if you were there you would have the same reaction. And it isn't racist to say this."

Cincinna said...

@AlexB
    I remember the speech well, and most people didn't take much notice, except on the Left, where the penchant for PC was already overtaking the reality of  the situation.
    People who have worked their entire lives to support their families resent very much the welfare state policies that give the fruits of their labor, and taxes to those who do not work or pay taxes,  practice polygamy with it's resultant 15-20 children on the public dole. France does technically  ban polygamy but permits a man with three or four  wives and 
15 children to receive l'allocation familiale for all. 
   What we are seeing in France, and starting to see in America is a revolt - the result of the divide created by the social welfare state that encourages and rewards slackers who live off the hard working, tax paying part of society. 
   ..... And your solution would be?

As for Chirac, his magouille et pots du vin as Mayor of Paris pale to his involvement with Saddam, the UN oil for food scandal and his cozying up to Arab dictators and potentates. He isn't referred to as "Jacques Iraq" or "Black Jack" for nothing.