Once again I had the impression that Candidate Sarkozy 2012 is but a pale shadow of Candidate Sarkozy 2007. David Pujadas started things off by asking about the aggressive tone of his first major speeches. "I don't know what you're talking about," replied the president. Pujadas reminded him that he had called Hollande a liar, and Sarkozy then launched into one of his standard litanies of high principle and low self-pity: A campaign is a confrontation of ideas, M. Pujadas, how can the French judge our ideas if I don't point out my opponent's contradictions, I've been president for 5 years, M. Pujadas, do you think I haven't taken any heat in all that time? Didn't another candidate call me un sale mec, and, mind you, I'm quoting. This is what you call aggressive, M. Pujadas? From one day to the next, I had to take the weight of the world's fifth largest economy on my shoulders, M. Pujadas, do you think a man is ready to shoulder that responsibility if he can't stand up to a little criticism, if he says one thing in one place and another in another?
The rhetorical trick of turning every question back on the questioner--Who hasn't made mistakes in his life, M. Pujadas? Do you think for a moment I don't reflect on my mistakes?--has worn thin over the years. Worse, Sarkozy looks tired, or, better, as though he's boring himself with an old song-and-dance number that he's performed too many times. He knows it isn't working, but he's not going to stop singing until the fat lady begins.
Or President Obama--Sarkozy's one lively moment came when Pujadas asked him to comment on Obama's rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago" with B. B. King and Mick Jagger. Would French mores permit a French president to do such a thing? "It's not a French-American matter, M. Pujadas. It's that he sings well, and I sing badly." If only, he seemed to be thinking, if only I had what that guy has.