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.