Patrick Buisson lays it on the line: Sarkozy's victory depends on capturing the Front National's votes after eliminating Marine Le Pen in the first round. He says--and he may be right--that the predictions of a resounding victory for Hollande in round 2 depend on the abstention of a large number of FN voters, who would presumably have to conclude that they hate Sarkozy more than they fear Hollande.
Hence Sarkozy's strategy, according to his chief strategist--himself a product of the extreme right--is to do whatever it takes to persuade FN voters that this time he means it, the last five years don't count, and if re-elected he will realize their fantasies of an étranger-rein Europe in which France dominates Germany, capital is meekly subservient to the wishes of the French president, public swimming pools are republicanly gender-blind, and school cafeterias are safe for wine and sausages. Buisson's view of policy as an extension of the political struggle is cold-blooded, ruthless, and quite possibly well-calculated. His political arithmetic is as precise as Karl Rove's, and the knives he proposes to use for slicing and paring this or that tranche of voters away from the opposition have been honed over many years of labor in the back-kitchens of politics.
What is of course missing entirely from his discourse is any positive vision of France's economic or geopolitical future. That doesn't mean he doesn't have one, but such luxuries are for after power is seized. Until then, the focus must be single-minded on those hatreds, prejudices, fears, and fantasies that can be tapped to win a dozen votes here and a score of votes there for reaction's chosen tool. Buisson represents everything that is most hateful in our politics on both sides of the Atlantic.