Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Do Early Polls Predict Anything?

A number of you have been critical of my citing early presidential polls as if they were meaningful. You now have statistical support for your criticism.

And Christine Ockrent Is Out at AEF

French journalism is transformed: after Kahn's resignation from Marianne, now Christine Ockrent is leaving Audiovisuel Extérieur de France. Two of the best-known names in the media have ended their careers.

And the method of departure is unusual, to say the least:

Finalement, les juristes ont suggéré une voie médiane. Formellement, Christine Ockrent ne démissionne pas. Elle prend acte de son impossibilité à exercer son mandat social de numéro deux de l'AEF. Elle enverra un courrier recommandé à Alain de Pouzilhac, le P-DG, ainsi qu'aux administrateurs. Puis elle se retournera auprès du tribunal de commerce pour faire constater cette impossibilité et obtenir, éventuellement, une compensation. La solution du tribunal de commerce a l'avantage de faire totalement sortir de la boucle le pouvoir politique. Devant cette juridiction consulaire, il n'y a pas en effet de représentant du parquet dont on dira qu'ils sont aux ordres de la chancellerie.

Jean-François Kahn Is Quitting Journalism

Jean-François Kahn, the editor of Marianne, has announced that he will quit journalism, at least in part because of the polemic unleashed by his use of the phrase "troussage de domestique" to describe the charges against DSK in New York.

Feminist Petition Gets 25,000 Signatures

French women, including Carla Bruni, are up in arms about the sexist remarks proffered by many men who spoke out in the media about the DSK affair:

"Nous avons eu droit à un florilège de remarques sexistes, du 'il n'y a pas mort d'homme' au 'troussage de domestique' en passant par 'c'est un tort d'aimer les femmes ?'", écrivent-elles. "Nous sommes en colère, révoltées et révoltés, indignées et indignés." 

About that famous tweet ...

Some theories of the DSK revolve around the famous tweet that preceded the official release of the news. Here is what is known so far.

Aubry vs. Hollande

Rue89 says Martine has it in for François. Her grievances include clogged toilets at rue Solférino. I can see that this is going to be an edifying battle. Do I have a dog in this race? Frankly, no, and perhaps this will make me more objective than I was in the case of DSK. In retrospect, I think I was unduly impressed by the polls and simply assumed he would be the strongest candidate of the left, despite my (serious) misgivings about his skills as a retail politician, which should have given me more pause. Not only that, but I'm asking myself exactly why I credited him with "competence" not possessed by other potential candidates. Exactly what his distinctive views on the economy were I couldn't say. At the IMF he favored expansive monetary and fiscal policy, but that was a relatively easy call for anyone not afflicted with the professional blindness of a European central banker. So: lesson learned. Scrutinize policy more closely, consider character more fully, and pay attention to the ability to appeal to voters. On the last point, I don't think either Aubry or Hollande has shown much. On character, Royal accused Aubry of stealing the leadership election, and there may well have been something to the charge; Hollande may have helped cover up Tristane Banon's allegations against DSK, and both probably knew about them. On policy, I don't yet see much to choose between them. Hollande has been the more diligent campaigner, however.

The Taboo Is Lifted, and Now What?

The DSK affair seems to have lifted the taboo on reporting "sexual harassment" charges in the media, but the negative consequences are already apparent in the case of Georges Tron:


"L'une comme l'autre dénoncent les très nombreux gestes déplacés du maire dans la foulée de leur embauche. Sous couvert de réflexologie (massage thérapeutique des pieds), Georges Tron se serait permis de leur caresser les pieds en toutes circonstances", ajoute le quotidien, affirmant que les plaignantes ont fait état ensuite de "véritables agressions sexuelles". Ces dernières, écrit le journal, "sont devenues dépressives, au point de tenter de mettre fin à leurs jours".
"J'observe que cela vient de Me Gilbert Collard, qui est un proche de Marine Le Pen, avec laquelle je suis en conflit depuis des mois", a poursuivi M. Tron. Plusieurs contentieux opposent Georges Tron à la famille Le Pen à Draveil. "Je ne suis pas naïf, on cherche à faire écho à une affaire qui se passe de l'autre côté de l'Atlantique...", a enfin relevé M. Tron, en faisant référence aux accusations de tentative de viol d'une employée d'hôtel qui pèsent sur Dominique Strauss-Kahn aux Etats-Unis.
So, is Tron a serial foot-fetishist or worse? Or is he a victim of manipulation and attempted destabilization by the FN? On the whole, I think it's a good thing that such allegations can be aired openly, but the French public must also learn to treat them with the appropriate skepticism until the charges are proven.

UPDATE (flash from Le Monde):

Le parquet d'Evry ouvre une enquête préliminaire visant Georges Tron


Une plainte a été déposée pour "harcèlement sexuel" contre le secrétaire d'Etat à la fonction publique par deux ex-employées municipales de Draveil (Essonne), ville dont M. Tron est le maire. La procureure de la République, Marie-Suzanne Le Queau, précise que si les faits reprochés étaient avérés, ils pourraient être qualifiés d'agression sexuelle et de viol. (Reuters)

"Mort médiatique?" Lagarde and the Presumption of Innocence

So, the Americans don't respect the presumption of innocence? "Death by media" is the rule among those barbaric Puritans. So they say. But the French media are doing their best to remind the IMF that Christine Lagarde, who has not been convicted of anything, has nevertheless been accused:

Si elles venaient à s’accorder sur le nom de Christine Lagarde, les chancelleries européennes enverraient donc à Washington pour l’élection de miss/mister Fmi une candidate dont le sort judiciaire est incertain. Même présumée innocente, elle demeurera sous le coup d’une condamnation. Pas sur que dans ces conditions, les jurés apprécient sa candidature à la seule aune de ses compétences. 
And well they should. Indeed, I'm spreading this information myself--not, I hope, in a spirit of "acharnement" against the minister, because I don't know all the facts, but with a sense of responsibility that the questions about her judgment ought to be weighed by the IMF before any decision is made.

Old Affairs

Bernard Girard reminds us of the Markovic Affair. Thanks, Bernard. I had completely forgotten that one. While we're dredging up old affairs, let's also remember the so-called Cassette Méry affair, in which DSK was involved.

Blogger Weirdness

Blogger is misbehaving in somewhat bizarre fashion this morning. It is impossible to log in when I use the Google Chrome browser, but Firefox displays the login panel correctly. This is strange, because Blogger, like Chrome, is a Google product. So for now I'm back to using Firefox.

Poll

A new poll. The Socialists seem to be doing pretty well post-DSK, with Hollande slightly ahead of Aubry. There are a lot of votes up for grabs in the center.