Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Pattern

In recent days, all of the following statements have appeared in the press:

Claude Bartolone n'exclut pas d'être 1er secrétaire du Parti Socialiste.
Marie-George Buffet n'exclut pas de rester à la tête du Parti Communiste.
François Hollande n'exclut pas d'être le candidat du Parti Socialiste en 2012.

N'exclut pas: This is an interesting variant of the rhetorical figure known as litotes:

A diminution or softening of statement for the sake of
avoiding censure or increasing the effect by contrast with
the moderation shown in the form of expression; a form of
understatement; as, " a citizen of no mean city," that is, of
an illustrious city; or, "not bad", meaning "good".

In the above examples, each politician is saying, "No one is giving me a snowball's chance in hell, but where there is ambition, there is hope." To be sure, Bartolone's statement can be distinguished slightly from the other two. Buffet and Hollande are both failed party leaders who blame their failures on circumstances rather than themselves and, seeing no greater talents in their immediate vicinity, hope that changed circumstances will somehow keep them afloat. Bartolone is an aspirant to leadership (if not a stalking horse for that other perennial aspirant, Laurent Fabius), who is throwing his hat into the ring without wishing to appear so ambitious as to arouse murderous envy (cf. "They say Caesar was an ambitious man"). He is not running because he wants to be primus inter pares, he tells us, but only to prevent the emergence of what he calls the "star sytem":

"Il faut que les socialistes évitent le star-system", ajoute-t-il. "Si nous devions tomber dans une compétition entre Ségolène Royal et Bertrand Delanoë, il n'y aurait pas de reconstruction possible, ni du PS ni de la gauche. De plus, je ne sais pas qui gagnerait mais l'un ferait 60 et l'autre 40, et on ne s'en sortirait pas. (...) Un tel scénario serait mortifère pour le PS".

Perhaps not as mortifère as the current system of collective misrule, in which any Socialist who sticks his or her neck out has it lopped off by the others. But that's not what Bartolone wants either. Rather, he looks forward to a conspiracy of starlets in which he, representing the Fabiusiens (remember, François Hollande estimated their strength at 10-15 pct of the party), joins forces with their nemeses the Strauss-Kahniens (another 10-15 pct) and the renegade ex-Royalistes of the NPS such as Arnaud Montebourg:

Lorsqu'on parle de cela avec Jean-Christophe Cambadélis (NDLR: proche de Dominique Strauss-Kahn) et Arnaud Montebourg (NDLR: supporter de Ségolène Royal en 2007), on se dit tous les trois en riant que rien ou presque ne nous sépare aujourd'hui et que, s'il fallait nous départager pour le poste de Premier secrétaire, on pourrait quasiment tirer entre nous à la courte-paille!

Nothing or next to nothing separates them other than their common ambition, that is.


Leo said...

As for me "Je n'exclus pas de ne pas voter à nouveau pour le Parti Socialiste" if they continue to duck the issue of what they stand for and remain an alliance of politicians united only around their opposition to the Right.
They remind me of Ernest Renan's statement that for some nationalists, a Nation is revelling in the memory of an invented past and united around their common hatred of their neighbours.

MYOS said...

Bartolone's statement strikes me as extremely disingenuous.
It's a bit as if Hillary decided to join forces with Lieberman and Howard Dean to defeat Obama and Edwards, under the guise that neither should dispose of the other.