Friday, April 6, 2012

Mélenchon Rolls On

The Mélenchon phenomenon continues: the candidate of the Front de Gauche turned out 70,000 people in Toulouse yesterday. Quite an amazing event.

Sarko Goes Negative

Arun Kapil has an interesting post on Sarkozy's adoption of a particularly harsh tone toward his opponent. Arun can't recall another instance of such vitriol in the annals of French presidential politics. It seems that Sarkozy, who has always had a mean streak and a pugnacious attitude, has lately decided that he must adopt the negative campaigning that has been so effective in recent American presidential contests.

But Sarkozy has chosen to be his own "attack dog," to use the colloquial American parlance for a role usually assigned to a vice-presidential candidate, party hack, or, in recent years, political action committee. Even in the US, where politeness has never been a feature of our politics, the principal in a campaign usually tries to maintain some distance between himself and the more vituperative characterizations of his opponent (although this years crop of Republicans have not been bashful about making ad hominem attacks on Obama).

Sarkozy's problem is that he has no allies who are as good at knife-fighting as he is. When NKM had to fill in for him the other day, she couldn't bring herself to be as nasty as the master. So Sarko has decided to do the job himself, and if Arun is right, he is likely to shock French mores, which expect a certain politesse, particularly in a sitting president. The current strategy will only recall the "Casse-toi pauvr' con" moment, which contributed to the sharp fall in Sarkozy's popularity early in his presidency.

Here's Arun:
Lest one get the wrong idea I am not an historic Sarkozy-hater. During the 2001-07 period I found him to be an interesting politician, a breath of fresh air on the right, supported him in his bras de fer with Chirac and Villepin, and defended him with lefty Sarko-hating friends and family members. And while I didn’t vote for him in 2007—my first election here as a citizen—I wasn’t disappointed by his victory. But that was then and this is now. In view of his conduct in office over the past five years and particularly during this campaign, I pronounce him to be a revolting, loathsome SOB who does not deserve to be reelected. If he somehow pulls it off on May 6th, I will consider it to be a true injustice, as it will demonstrate that demagoguery and cynicism in politics do work.

"Un Figaro de Gauche"

Nicolas Demorand is under attack by journalists at Libération, of which he is the editor. They accuse him of excessive partisanship in the service of his own ambitions, which he allegedly hopes to further in case the left wins in May:
"Nous sommes en train de devenir un Figaro de gauche", regrette un journaliste. Une partie de la rédaction accuse la direction "d'instrumentaliser Libération pour préparer le futur". Elle soupçonne M. Demorand, ancien journaliste de radio, deviser un poste de responsabilité dans l'audiovisuel public en cas de victoire de la gauche.