Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Last Ditch Ain't What It Used to Be

They shall not pass ... er, make that, They shall not pass without slowing down just a bit.

François Hollande said today that "they should end the strike tonight." If it continues, "users will have their lives disrupted. So I hope, and now I'm even demanding, that they start this morning on a round of negotiations firm-by-firm," as the CGT has insisted.

So much for the last-ditch stand. Anne-Marie Idrac, the head of the SNCF, says she wants firm-level negotiations. The CGT says it wants firm-level negotiations. The government says it wants firm-level negotiations. François Hollande "demands" firm-level negotiations. Faces have been saved. Now the concerned parties can get on with dotting the i's, which was probably completed weeks ago, long before the curtain went up on this street theater à l'ancienne. As Laurence Parisot said with inimitable tactlessness, "I can't stop thinking about all the people who love France and who are looking at us today and saying, 'What is it with all this outdated rigamarole (ringardisme)?'" Ma chère Laurence, one is allowed to think such thoughts but not to say them out loud. You need a counselor in public relations. Why not hire one from the Élysée, where they know how these things are done? Claude Guéant flattered Bernard Thibault by crediting him with "taking a step to resolve the crisis on the first day of conflict." When the enemy is about to surrender, the time is ripe to tell him how valiantly he fought.

Prediction: by Monday it will all be over, and we will know how much the government paid in concessions in order to rack up a victory on the principle, whatever the principle turns out to be. Because in the end it will all seem a little muddy: yes, everyone should work more, and the rules should be the same for all, except when they can't be, or aren't, or it isn't worth fighting over ...

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