Monday, May 21, 2007

La Parvenue et l'Héritier

If a latter-day Plutarch were to chronicle the lives of the new generation that has acceded to power with the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, he might be tempted by the contrasting careers of Rachida Dati and Martin Hirsch.

Dati, 41 years old, is the second of twelve children of a Moroccan father, employed as a mason, and an illiterate Algerian mother. She grew up in a housing project in Chalon-sur-Saône and eventually earned degrees in law and ecological science and certification as a magistrate, supporting herself while in school by working as a nurse’s aide. Ambitious, she attached herself early on to a series of mentors well-connected in right-wing political circles: Albin Chalandon, Marceau Long, Simone Weil, Jean-Luc Lagardère. Sarkozy chose her as one of two spokespersons for his presidential campaign. With his election she became minister of justice.

Martin Hirsch, 43, is the son of Bernard Hirsch, former director of the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, and the grandson of Etienne Hirsch, former commissioner of planning. Martin, a graduate of the elite Ecole Normale Supérieure, holds an advanced degree in neurobiology. He is also a graduate of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, although the Fillon government, breaking with the habits of the recent past, draws a relatively small proportion of its members from among ENA alumni. Hirsch made his political debut in 1997 as staff director for then health minister Bernard Kouchner, who, like Hirsch, is among the Socialists who have joined Sarkozy. A classic héritier (heir), Hirsch reportedly declined the title of minister, preferring that of “high commissioner for solidarity,” as a mark of his independence from the political orientations of the government he serves. In his first day on the job, he further asserted his independence by dismissing candidate Sarkozy’s proposed deductible on health insurance as a “bad idea.”

Two Frances, then: the one struggling to rise, keen for recognition, and now charged with the administration of justice; the other long since arrived yet responsible for healing what Jacques Chirac called “the social fracture,” which remains unreduced after twelve years of Chiraquien rule.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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