Saturday, April 12, 2008


Pirates! Sarko I would have stripped to the waist, inserted dagger between teeth, and boarded the Ponant himself to save the hostages. Or he would have sent Cecilia. Sarko II let the commandos do the work and posed discreetly with the families.

The metamorphosis has been duly noted in all the media. "The reconquest has begun," proclaims Le Figaro. "Nicolas fait du Mitterrand." This is no doubt better than faire du Chirac. Read a little farther, however, and you begin to worry that Sarko II may be taking the Mitterrand act rather too far: "La grande affaire de l'Élysée, c'est donc la présidence européenne. Une étape clé du quinquennat, laisse-t-on entendre au Palais. Une étape préparée avec soin." Oh dear, oh dear! This is beginning to sound dire. Dr. Johnson may have said that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel," but that was before the supranational alternative existed. Mitterrand, it will be recalled, turned to Europe after the failure of "socialism in one country" in 1983. It was another era of rigueur that dared not speak its name. To be sure, the hopes dashed by the failure of la détaxation des heures sup' are not quite of the same order as the hopes of un avenir radieux et les lendemains qui chantent. But Europe deserves better than sloppy seconds.

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