Wednesday, January 4, 2012

La "racaille," c'est ... ce "sale mec"

Hollande has had his "racaille" moment. Running for president 5 years ago, Sarkozy demonstrated his toughness by going to Argenteuil and contriving to slip the word "racaille" into his characterization of the neighborhood's inhabitants, vowing to clean them out with a high-pressure hose. One can't imagine, say, de Gaulle performing such a stunt, but it was thought to be an effective campaign ploy: en faisant popu', the candidate drew to his side voters who might otherwise have opted for the FN. And indeed, Le Pen's numbers were down seriously compared with the previous election.

Last night on France2, one saw a new François Hollande: aggressive, punchy, answering questions in short sentences, showing flashes of anger, setting his jaw firmly, and conveying with body language a readiness to get down and dirty. Il a fait popu', in short. Not quite the same as shouting up to the lady in the balcony from the dalle d'Argenteuil, but it was a sign. And now, in this morning's Le Parisien, it is reported that a next step has been taken: Hollande is supposed to have referred to the president as "un sale mec."

De la classe? No, but that's the point, I guess. Or the calculation. Supposedly there are a lot of voters out there who would like to kick Sarkozy's ass, who remember the president shouting at the worker in the crane above his head, "Descends de là si t'es un homme." As Sarko called out the worker, Hollande has called out le sale mec: "Descends de là si t'es un homme." 


This is rather a different approach from Chirac's to Mitterrand when he invited the then president to debate him as an equal, to drop their respective titles of Prime Minister and President and address each other simply as Monsieur Mitterrand and Monsieur Chirac. A thrust that Mitterrand disposed of with a deftly ironic parry: "Oui, comme vous voulez, Monsieur le Premier Ministre." Ah, those were the days when streetfighters posed as gentlemen. Today, alas, gentlemen pose as streetfighters, so we have the spectacle of le pourfendeur de la racaille versus le flingueur du sale mec.

Enough. Let's get on with this show. Time for a discussion of the issues, I would think.

8 comments:

Passerby said...

"Sale mec" is all over the headlines. I realize that the "gentlemen days" are over, but I don't get why media is treating this as an important campaign event.
This is an extremely mild expression. Unfortunately even kinder garden kids know "better" insults than that...

Cincinna said...

@Passerby
It us headline news because it is so shocking, so outside the norms of French politesse.
Nicolas Sarkozy is the President of France, and respect should be shown for the office. The campaign has not yet begun, and Hollande is insulting the Head of State, not an opposition candidate.
Hollande, IMO, is trying on an attack persona which is in direct conflict with the controlled, civilized, reasonable calm image of himself he has carefully cultivated. It doesn't suit him very well, and doesn't convey the gravitas and above
the fray attitude one would expect from someone with such high aspirations but very little real life experience.
His utter confusion and lack of the retail politicking skills of which Sarko is the master, combined with his lack of "peps" tell me he is not the shoe-in people had hoped he would be.

Anonymous said...

I think this has been blown out of proportion. It is shocking to realize Hollande can say such things (as if he'd arrived to that level without more vicious epiteths and backstabbing) but once it was known iot was part of a SKIT he was doing for the journalists' benefit, then you realize that it's, in fact, totally in character. Throughout his career, Hollande has been known as a goofball imitating anyone from Chirac to Sarkozy to De Villepin.

Anonymous said...

Schneiderman:
http://www.arretsurimages.net/vite-dit.php#12823

as for being "above the fray", the CSA has indicated the majority of President Sarkozy's interventions on TV were partisan and not 'above the fray': they were thus counted with the UMP time, not as "presidential, neutral, time" (together,UMP+ partisan president have a right to 50% airwaves, with the PS+Verts left having 25% and the various fringe parties sharing the remaining 25%). Second, I agree with Krugman (who was talking about being "moderate") when he said one must be forceful in order to be heard. I don"t find Hollande especially forceful but if anyone should be "above the fray" it should be the current president, not the opposition candidate.
Finally, yesterday I heard something astounding on the news: "the seafrance workers said no to the government's plan". The president brokered a special deal for them and they thought it was such a bad deal, so ill thought-out, that they refused it .. and made it known. It's hard to overestimate the humiliation and how exceptional that response is.
MYOS

Anonymous said...

Hollande should have called Sarko a "pov' con", that way the Sarkozistas couldn't complain, considering it was the Monarch himself who said it to a member of the public :)

Mélanie

Cincinna said...

@Melanie
Hollande, as a candidate for the Presidency, should never get in the gutter the way he did. It goes against the image he has meticulously crafted for his new persona, and diminishes him.
Even if he despises Sarkozy, he must show respect for the Head of State and the office.
Proof once again that Hollande is not very good at politics. He is an elitist, and it shows. He is terrible at retail politicking, while Sarko, and his predecessor, Chirac are masters of the art.
They genuinely like people, and enjoy the contact, Hollande obviously doesn't.

Anonymous said...

It turns out that Hollande was, as he likes to do, clowning and imitating other politicos and off the record.

I wouldn't call Sarkozy "un sale mec", but something several times worse. Even though I was in 2008upbraided by a very black French gentleman, who once held elected office. He explained to me he too loathed Sarko, but respect was due to his office. I had been handing out leaflets for a demo against Bush's last visit to Paris, against Nato, Sarkozy, etc... and thoughtlessly said "Bush et son petit ami Sarko", which my interlocutor thought I was suggesting the two slept together (horrible image!).

Mélanie

Cincinna said...

@ Melanie
Well, they used to call Sarko "le toutou de Chirac" so I guess he's heard worse & can handle it.
So what are you protesting against these days? Surely you can't be supporting le Roi des Bobos, Monsieur HEC himself, l'homme du peuple.