Friday, July 25, 2008


So, while washing my underwear this morning at the Lav' Club on the avenue Claude Bernard (vacationing has its obligations, too, just as normal life does), I read the following in Libé:

«Barack Obama suscite énormément d’attentes sur le plan international et aux
Etats-Unis. Est-ce que cette attente est fondée ? Est-ce qu’il y répondra ? Nous
verrons bien», nuance Pierre Lellouche, député (UMP) de Paris. Pour ce bon
connaisseur des Etats-Unis, le Parti démocrate «n’a rien à voir avec une annexe
du Parti socialiste comme certains, à gauche, l’imaginent. C’est un parti
protectionniste et qui n’a pas cherché à éviter les guerres. Kennedy a précipité
son pays dans la guerre du Vietnam».

Ah, yes, Pierre Lellouche, the same bon connaisseur who said, in the wake of l'ouverture sarkozyenne of last summer, that the UMP needed to distribute vaseline to those ambitious men such as himself who had taken it up the wazoo (such delicacy of expression!), here contributes to the already abundantly furnished sottisier français concerning the United States. The Democrats a protectionist party? Mais voyons: Obama would of course like to win the votes of displaced workers in Ohio, but he also values the contributions of internationalist investment bankers, and he got himself in trouble during the primaries when his economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, let slip to a Canadian diplomat that it would be an error to pay too much attention to protectionist talk on the campaign trail. And wasn't it George Bush who raised tariffs on steel and furniture when there were votes to be had in Pennsylvania and North Carolina? Really, M. Lellouche, bon connaisseur que vous êtes, soyons sérieux. As for the Democrats as le parti va-t-en-guerre, well, I declare, I would have thought that such clichés might be set aside on the very day that Obamania comes to Paris, and after eight years of Republican shock and awe.

Of course, M. Lellouche is right about one thing: the Democratic Party is indeed not an "annexe" of the Socialist Party. The Democrats have had their years in the wilderness, but they have never descended into chaos and bedlam quite as irreparable as the inimitable PS, which is thankfully sui generis.

Last night, at La Comédie italienne in Montparnasse, I saw the delightful farce Les Sortilèges de l'amour. M. Lellouche seems to be operating under a similar sort of magic spell, born no doubt of his besotted amour for the American neoconservatives, whose day, we may hope, has passed. May he quickly recover from his infatuation.


David in Setouchi said...

The equation is simple: US Democrats are popular in France. Obama is hugely popular in France. So an UMP guy like Lellouche will try to likens the Dems to the UMP not the Left.

Anonymous said...

A few things: (1) The Democratic Party is certainly far more to the right than the Socialist Party. Many of the Democratic leaders might feel at home in the PS, especially in the Strauss-Kahnien current, but most (and nearly all who aren't from the Northeast or from California) would likely be in the Modem or the UMP.

(2) American parties don't have leaders the way French parties do, which makes it less likely they would fall in leadership fights. However, the prolonged and at times very nasty primaries (take Clinton-Obama) are in a sense internal chaos, or the equivalent of the PS's current crisis. At least Delanoe and Royal aren't going around insulting each other as Clinton and Obama did!

David in Setouchi said...

I totally disagree with the whole "Dems are more to the right than the PS".
I've been hearing that for years, and I only see anti-americanism from the French left in that statement... That and ignorance from a bunch of French people about US politics.
As if it was not possible for Americans to be on the left (and other similar idiocies)...

The Democrat Party regroups a wide range of ideologies, and if there's not doubt that somebody like Lieberman would definitely be MoDem at best, but most likely UMP, Kunicich on the other hand could even be with the LCR in France... But the Dem Mainstream is more or less exactly like the PS mainstream...

Anonymous said...

his besotted amour for the American neoconservatives

The doers move more quickly. In the US the war was a bad idea, necons are out, the Market cow less holy (maybe election time coming there).

In France, copycats like Lellouche wish they were still partying like it's 2003, with the US they liked so much.

Kunicich on the other hand could even be with the LCR in France

Of course, you are joking.

LFC said...

Lellouche: "Kennedy got his country into the Vietnam War"

Don't forget that Eisenhower gave financial support to the French in Indochina. But the key decisions that got the U.S. into Vietnam in a major way were not taken by Kennedy but by Johnson in 1965.