Monday, August 27, 2007

Foreign Policy

It was the little things that counted in Sarko's speech to a meeting of ambassadors today in which he traced the broad outlines of his foreign policy. If anaphora is the defining trope of his (and speechwriter Henri Guaino's) rhetoric, it was abundantly on display today. Repeated introductory clauses included "Je suis de ceux qui pensent ..." and "Prévenir une confrontation entre l'Islam et l'Occident ..." The incantatory pulse served as effective camouflage for a certain number of telling petites phrases:

"In confronting international crises such as the one in Iraq, it is today established that unilateral action leads to failure ..."

Was the word "failure" mentioned in Kennebunkport?

On Turkey, "France will not oppose the opening of new chapters in the negotiations," though it still prefers a different kind of association and hopes to persuade its partners.

"I want today to stress the importance of a Europe of Defense. Setting the Union in opposition to NATO makes no sense. We need both. More than that, I am convinced that it is in the self-interest properly understood of the United States that the European Union should gather its forces, rationalize its capacities, and, in short, organize its defense."

Se non è vero, è ben' trovato ...

Who is "G"? The burning question of the hour, for those who have been following the Yasmina Reza hoopla ... Her book on Sarkozy, she tells us, was inspired by her affair with another politician, whom she calls "G." Of course this left everyone wondering who G might be. Now, via Pierre Assouline, we learn that the Sunday Times of London has outed G, and he is (allegedly) none other than DSK. But the Times attributes its story to Le Point and doesn't seem to have it quite nailed down.

So let's get this straight: Sarko's amanuensis was having an affair with a man who might have been his opponent even as she was admitted into the most intimate councils of his campaign. No sooner is he elected than he contrives to push DSK into a candidacy for the IMF.

It's no wonder that the late Raymond Barre liked to keep his distance from what he called the microcosme. And the story does rather put the distance between Royal and at least one Socialist éléphant in a somewhat new light ...

Frangy, Pas Frangins, Encore Moins Camarades

Some of the younger Socialists gathered over the weekend in Frangy at the invitation of Arnaud Montebourg. They're trying to figure out how to play the rénovation game and see which one is top dog. The scene must have resembled the scene at the dog park where I walk my Siberian husky every morning. A lot of sniffing around, posturing, feeling out, pawing of the ground, and a skirmish or two. Besides Montebourg, the cast of characters included (cutting and pasting from Libé) "le fabiusien Philippe Martin, la strauss-kahnienne Sandrine Mazetier, la royaliste Aurélie Filipetti, et les «rénovateurs» Manuel Valls et Gaëtan Gorce." Royal wanted to join them, but Montebourg reportedly disinvited her on the pretext that the "tradition" of his Fête de la Rose does not permit inviting the same guest of honor twice in a row. But a picture of her was placed on a windowsill where it couldn't be missed. Solidarity forever!

On substance we get a few snippets:

Valls said it was time for the party to shed its "leftist trappings." This has been a very slow striptease, since the party has been shedding its leftist trappings since 1983, but perhaps it needs the encouragement of the young guys in the front row to keep going. More significantly, on the subject of immigration, he said that it was time for the party to abandon its "militant and compassionate discourse, which smacks of irresponsibility." And once again he was hyping "work, merit, order, authority" as left-wing values hijacked by the right.

Montebourg took after l'Éducation Nationale for being "bureaucratic and centralized." Now there's news! A startling discovery. He also called for a "reconciliation with enterprise." More news!

Gorce said the young leaders of the party shouldn't line up behind anyone but shouldn't marginalize anyone either. Ségolène Royal "doesn't have to conduct the renovation of the party by herself. It ought to be collective." Let's keep those options open.

It would have been nice to hear what the women had to say, but Libé chose to leave us in the dark as to any contributions that Filipetti and Mazetier might have made.

... Meanwhile, back in Paris, at La Villette, Les Gracques met. Again quoting Libé:

les écrivains Jorge Semprun et Erik Orsenna, Philippe Val ( Charlie Hebdo), Anthony Giddens (professeur à la London School of Economics) et Peter Mandelson (commissaire européen), architectes du New Labour blairiste, Walter Veltroni (maire social-démocrate de Rome), Michel Rocard (ex-Premier ministre) et, en clôture François Cherèque, secrétaire général de la CFDT. Et dans la salle ? Il y a Denis Olivennes, le PDG de la Fnac, mais pas Jean-Pierre Jouyet, l’ami de Hollande qui «a dû quitter les Gracques lorsqu’il a décidé d’entrer dans le gouvernement», précise Bernard Spitz, président des Gracques et patron d’une boîte de conseil, passé par le cabinet de Strauss-Khan.

"They're mainly guys in their fifties," said one of the few younger people in the audience. "Et ils sont un peu tight ass (cul serrés, ndlr) », regrette David (militant socialiste), 19 ans" Henri Weber, the ex-Trotskyite current Fabiusien, eschewed the crude Anglicism in favor of the ironic epithet "extreme center," which is evidently a politer way of saying the same thing. He noted the coolness of the audience to a poll showing that a heavy majority of left voters favor retirement at age 60, an increase in the minimum wage to 1500 euros per month, and no reduction in civil service personnel. The assembled wise men regarded all these things as "absolutely of another era."

So there you have it. Attempting a synthesis, one is led to the conclusion that what the party needs is a candidate who can triangulate the space between Sarko, Frangy, and La Villette, be less tight-assed, find a way to reconcile with enterprise while raising the minimum wage 50 percent, rehabilitate the leftist watchwords "order" and "authority" while stripping off any remaining leftist trappings, yet without being sucked into the vortex of the "extreme center" from whose bourne no candidate returns. Bonne chance.

For the trade union contribution, from Chérèque of the CFDT, see here. For a report by a blogger who attended the meeting of Les Gracques, see here. He reports the startling news that Jean-Louis Gergorin, the mole in the Clearstream Affair, was an invited guest!