Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rama Yade

I've mentioned before that this blog occasionally serves as a barometer of public interest in certain personalities. When Christine Boutin made news a while back, there was a sudden uptick in Google searches on her name and referrals from other Web sources landing on pages that concerned her.

Over the past three days I've observed a similar phenomenon with Rama Yade. Eloi Laurent's guest post seems to be the best available on-line biography of her, and that includes French sources. So his post has been picked up by Wikipedia and by the Law School Discussion, and these sources, along with Google, have been sending hundreds of readers this way.

Yade appeared on the France2 news last night and was radiant, magnetic, smart, and articulate. It should be of great concern to Socialists that they couldn't retain a woman of her quality. It seems that Sarko called her "my Condoleeza Rice." A writer on the Law School Discussion found that remark offensive, but Yade demonstrated her diplomatic skills as well as her realism by taking it in good humor, recognizing the distance between a junior member of Bernard Kouchner's cabinet and the U. S. Secretary of State, and expressing the hope that she might some day justify the comparison. She has one clear advantage over Condi: a genuine warmth of character to go with her unflappable poise and ability to find the right words. A woman to watch--and it will be interesting to see how she handles the negative reaction to Sarkozy's speech in Senegal, the country in which she was born. It was a good speech, I thought, but it was taken as paternalistic by some Senegalese, and the grumbling in the Senegalese press has made it back to France. This might be a good opportunity for her to prove her mettle by trying to sell her boss's vision to African editorialists. Sarko is proposing a real change in France's posture toward Africa, I think, but the message doesn't seem to have gotten across. Or perhaps Africans are waiting for words to be transformed into deeds, the only currency in which Sarkozy himself sees any value.


Fr. said...

"Yade appeared on the France2 news last night and was radiant, magnetic, smart, and articulate."

This calls strong contradiction: I remember watching her on France 5 a few moths ago, and she was absolute rubbish at her job (weak répartie, lack of argument, low communication cues).

Fr. said...

… (continued)

And if, indeed, Sarko is proposing something different, I feel more than skeptical towards his capacity to reverse the trend.

My impression is that the definition of French diplomacy is less defined by top executives than by the mass of high diplomats who work for the "MAE" in Africa. In this case, a change necessitates a major resocialisation of diplomatic elites, not (just) presidential will.

Sarkozy's recent visit to yet another African dictator fits, in my opinion, in this picture of path dependent foreign policy.

Anonymous said...

i agree that she showed astonishing composure and did not let the new france2 newsreader push her around. the shot of her with three other people: i assume one of them is her non card-carrying PS member husband?

i also agree that her first interview was clumsy and strange; she has obviously taken the time to prepare and to listen.

whose hand did she not shake? j'ai lu que c'etait de bush & putin, wow. c'est vrai?