Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Le Pen and Sarkozy

Sarkozy the candidate successfully attracted a substantial number of Front National voters. Sarkozy the president seems to have consolidated this success by charming FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who offered this remarkable appreciation this morning on RTL: "I think that each of his actions has been maturely considered, weighed, very well-informed, and thus far, it must be said, fairly well executed." When the interviewer asked if this was to be interpreted as a plaudit to the artist, Le Pen replied, "Yes, something like that. Even if I take him to be something of an illusionist--but an illusionist of great talent."

Le Pen added a rather Proustian flourish to his appreciation of the president's petits soins. As attuned to the subtleties of the slight as any duchess of the Faubourg Saint-Germain, he could barely contain his joy in reporting that among the matters on which Sarko had maturely reflected was the timing of Le Pen's invitation to the Elysée. "It was not entirely innocent," the FN leader remarked, that his appearance had preceded the council of ministers meeting by only fifteen minutes, so that the ministers would be obliged to wait until Le Pen had exited the president's office.

Demonstrating a less subtle touch with the art of the insult, Le Pen himself refused the opportunity to reconcile with Cardinal Lustiger on the day of his death. He rather seized the occasion to repeat the assertion of racial difference that had provoked the cardinal in life. More seriously, perhaps, he attached a barb to his flattery of Sarkozy: the president had promised that the constitutional reform commission would include all political sensibilities, but the FN was not represented. Le Pen had two names to suggest: Jean-Claude Martinez and Bruno Gollnisch.

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