Monday, January 14, 2008

Law and Order Newspeak

The plain-talking presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy seems suddenly to have been afflicted with a peculiar sort of aphasia. We have the fixed-duration contract that is in fact of variable duration (see previous post), and we also have the unités territoriales de quartier that are not--absolutely not--the police de proximité that then-interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy dismantled 6 years ago to great fanfare. To be sure, the police de proximité suffered from the immense drawback of having been introduced by the left, whereas the unités territoriales de quartier are a centerpiece of the new security policy of Michèle Alliot-Marie and therefore securely of the right. In addition, we are told that the new neighborhood police won't be playing rugby and soccer with the members of youth gangs; instead they'll be enforcing the law. There will be no "ambiguity" in their role.

Je ferai ce que j'ai dit, et j'ai dit ce que je ferai, Nicolas Sarkozy likes to say. But when it's a question of undoing what he did, he won't say, and rather leaves the announcement--une fois n'est pas coutume--to his minister, who had to invent a new bottle into which to pour old wine, or at any rate a new word for an old thing.

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