Monday, January 16, 2012

"No Backbone"

Frédéric Martel interviews Emmanuelle Mignon, President Sarkozy's erstwhile "idea person," who fed him ideas for the 2007 campaign. He comes up with a scoop:
Il ne faut pas compter sur elle pour trahir, ni pour dire du mal. J’ai l’impression qu’elle garde pour Nicolas Sarkozy une grande affection et du respect.
Plus tard, en 2011, lors de plusieurs rendez-vous et déjeuners en tête à tête avec elle près d’EuropaCorp, le studio de cinéma qu’elle a rejoint, elle me fera un jour une confidence, une seule. Sachant qu’elle trahit un secret d’État bien gardé, elle parlera de ses difficultés à travailler avec un homme imprévisible qui n’a pas « la suite dans les idées », et qui, sans consistante idéologique, est souvent velléitaire et versatile : « Sarkozy n’a pas de colonne vertébrale. Si je suis partie, c’est pour ça. Il n’a aucune colonne vertébrale. »


Boris said...

7 or 8 years ago I was reading an account of a senior analyst of the French political scene. I can't remember who exactly but he looked very well informed.

Here's more or less what he had to say about Chirac:

"A political animal motivated by ambition only, with no backbone, capable of saying something, then its contrary the next day without flinching, if it serves his purpose".

Then, about Sarkozy:

"Exactly the same as Chirac, 20 years younger"

I found this judgment about Sarkozy scathing at the time. I must admit it was spot on.

Louis said...

An analogy with 1980s Chirac came to me while looking at old issues of Sud Ouest, a regional paper. Iturriz, their cartoonist, depicted very well Chirac's manerisms, and one could see similarities with Sarkozy. One of these similarities would be the way Chirac worked with Pasqua. Hortefeux as the same role with Sarkozy: the shocktrooper, the dirty tricks specialist, the bona fide hardliner with a side business in racist innuendo. There is one in every family, as it seems.

And by the way, Patrick Rambaud's Chroniques du règne de Nicolas 1er are excellent. Not so much as a chronicle of events than as the portrayal of an atmosphere.

Alex Price said...

Art, I’m assuming your “scoop” label is ironic; surely it isn’t news that Sarkozy is more “pragmatic” than ideological. Like Mitt Romney and no doubt most other politicians, he just wants to win. Mignon’s comment reminds me of the kinds of things people on the left like me have been saying about Obama. A recent article in the NY Times pointed out, if I recall correctly, that it is historically typical for a candidate’s supporters to be disappointed once he takes office and makes the compromises that governing inevitably entails. When it comes to presidents on the right, we should perhaps be grateful that they have no spine; imagine the damage they would do if they did.

FrédéricLN said...

"Backbones" would not in France refer to a precise, predetermined agenda; but rather to values, to an ability to choose the way of general interest even it is not your best friends' interest.

Read the incipit of

Alex Price said...

That’s more or less what it means in English as well. The point of my post was not to suggest that the critique of Sarkozy was misplaced but to say that, in the US at least, complaints about “spinelessness” often come from supporters dismayed to see a politician who ran on certain principles appear to abandon or compromise them once in office.