Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gopnik on Sarkozy


Adam Gopnik's portrait of Sarkozy. On y trouve tout. He indulges in outrageous generalization: "He adores her [Cécilia] the way short, ambitious men adore beautiful women who are taller than they are but tolerate their advances." He skates lightly over surfaces, substituting paradox for analysis: "Some suspect that Sarkozy’s secret strength in resolving the French economic 'crisis' may be that there is no crisis." Pas bête quand même. He stretches the "human bomb" story to universal metaphor (and makes it the title of his piece): "Sarkozy ... spent his first two months engineering a series of audacious tactical coups that were of exactly the human-bomb type: walking up to dangerous men and defusing them." ... "Sarkozy’s decision to spend his summer vacation in New Hampshire and have lunch with George W. Bush in Maine was widely regarded in France not as obsequiousness but as pure human-bombism: walk right up to the man considered dangerous and disarm him by talking calmly over a hot dog." He ends with a thumping bit of punditry gone wild: "But it is also possible that the election of Nicolas Sarkozy may be seen not as the start of a new pro-American moment in Europe but as a marker of the beginning of the post-American era." He manages to compare Sarko to Brigitte Bardot: "This makes his aura in France very different from his aura in America, where no French personality since Brigitte Bardot has been such a projection screen for wishful dreams and onanistic fantasies." He wonders about anti-Sarkozysm: "Lying in wait is a strident, powerful opposition that, with an intensity that seems to an outsider disproportionate to any offense, hates him, really hates him, and is waiting for a chance to get even."

Still, you'll find the piece diverting, I wager. In order to serve France up for the American palate, the dish has to be tarted up with a certain amount of Cajun spice rub, I guess.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Art,
alas, I'm afraid the matter is worse. On y trouve de tout indeed, like :

- gratuitous claims "The French police are not known for their gentle touch with psychos." (source ?)

- blatant errors : "The election was really won only on the night of the Presidential debate a few days before the final round of voting, when Royal harangued Sarkozy for two and a half hours about his weaknesses and flaws as a man and as a politician." (not a single thing is right here) ;

- inexplicable approximations : "there have been allegations—strongly denied—that the mission’s success was connected to an arms deal between the Libyans and the French" (the other AG should read this blog) ;

- outright banalities : "If there is a political creed behind Sarkozy’s government-of-all-the-talents populism, his urge to transcend party or policy, it can be found in what people call his Bonapartism" ; (is that true???)

- Easy to check spelling mistakes : "Ségolène Royal became widely known for having received an “A.O.C.,” a certificate of appellation, for cabichou, a goat cheese from her region of Poitou-Charentes" (chabichou);

- Dubious descriptions : "This is why some in Chirac’s circle were sure that Sarkozy could never win: not because he seemed vaguely Jewish and foreign but because he was inarguably Parisian." (Le Pen didn't dare to try this one) ;

And it goes on and on and on...

As for the title, it is simply scandalous.

Unknown said...

Eloi,
Thanks for these additional chefs d'accusation. Points well taken.

L'Amerloque said...

Hello !

In addition to his usual tiresome superficialities, Gopnik of course missed what makes Sarko tick: having been brought up in a bling-bling environment, having attended a bling-bling school, and having been Mayor of a bling-bling, arriviste town. (sigh) The whole HB story cannot be referred to without speaking of how Sarko simply had to out-Pasqua Charles Pasqua to keep any kind of credibility with his concitoyens/administrés.

After Achille Peretti's term(s), from 1947 to 1983, the mayoralty was set to go to another Corsican (agreed in 1946/47, apparently …), but Sarko grabbed the brass ring away. Most of the Corsican influence – municipally speaking, that is - has now concentrated within that other bastion of ceux de l'ile de beauté: Issy-les-Moulineaux. (sigh) … ensuring that Corsica remains quite influential within the Conseil Général.

Best,
L'Amerloque

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I find Adam Gopnik tiresome. Couldn't even finish "Paris to the Moon," let alone his New Yorker article.