Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dallas vs. Chateauvallon

On Sunday, Ségolène Royal appeared on Michel Drucker's Vivement Dimanche and spoke of her breakup with François Hollande. "I was deceived," she said. I haven't seen this myself, since the TV5 rebroadcast of Drucker seems to be running a week behind. In any case, four other Socialist women have publicly criticized Royal for making a public spectacle of her private life. How can one take such a course and criticize Sarkozy for doing the same, they ask (naively, perhaps). "You have Dallas on one side, Chateauvallon on the other," said Michèle Sabban, a regional councilor for Ile-de-France. Other critics are Anne Hidalgo, a deputy mayor of Paris, Annick Lepetit, a deputy from Paris, and Elisabeth Guigou, the former justice minister.

Yet it seems to me that Royal knows perfectly well what she's doing. She aims to "presidentialize" the party by becoming its leader and making it the vehicle of her presidential ambitions. To carry this off, she has to become the focal point of all attention, not one voice among others in a debate. If her private life can rivet the audience, then her private life, or at least a carefully tailored public narrative encompassing known facts about her private life, must be put to use.

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