Thursday, January 8, 2009

Able Was I Ere I Saw Elba


Le Point compares Sarko to Napoleon. Nadine Morano goes them one better: "Qui lui arrive à la cheville ? Pour l’instant, personne. Pour moi, il y a Napoléon, De Gaulle et Sarkozy. Entre, c’est peanuts." What could possibly be the basis of such hyperbole? Alain Duhamel sees "chez Nicolas Sarkozy un Premier consul contemporain, à ses débuts, un Bonaparte en frac." And then there is this bit of purple prose, that can only be ironic: "Campagnes d’Egypte. L’un emmène ses généraux, l’autre sa nouvelle compagne. Les deux partagent la même passion pour cet Orient compliqué qu’ils veulent démêler, par les armes pour Bonaparte, par le verbe pour Sarkozy."

If I were to compare Sarkozy to Napoleon--which, Lord knows, I would do only under duress or in response to foolishness like Le Point's, which must have come out of a bibulous New Year's Eve party--I would focus on the slow but steady reinforcement of executive prerogatives: the arrogation to the president of the power to appoint the head of France Télévisions, for instance. Or the move to diminish the independence of the juge d'instruction and bring her under the direct control of the administration.

But perhaps Le Point had the big picture in mind: Napoleon conquered Europe, Sarkozy assumed its rotating presidency for six months. Même combat, n'est-ce pas? The difference, as Nadine Morano might say, is "peanuts."

7 comments:

kirkmc said...

France Telecom? The government has always named the heads of state-run companies (but I actually think they are no longer majority shareholder of France Telecom, and hence lost that right.)

I'm tired of the way the French press spends so much time talking about Sarkozy's "style" rather than dealing with issues related to policy. They're doing a disservice to readers, spending their time with political gossip rather than real issues.

Unknown said...

Kirk,
Thanks for the correction. I meant Television.

kirkmc said...

Ah, that makes more sense.

I don't see the big deal about that. Television is not the monolithic entity that it once was. On the news on France 2 last night, they mentioned how the head of the public TV is named in other countries, and some of them are named by the government, others by "committees". Frankly, that's not a big enough worry (other than for those who work there) given the other problems in this country.

Unknown said...

Kirk,
I saw that report on France2, and I thought that they minimized the very real differences. The subtext of the report was that all countries recognize the sensitivity and power of the television news networks, and most make a greater effort than France does to decentralize decision-making and ensure civil-society oversight. The contrast with the UK was stark, for example. Granted, TV news is no longer the monolith that it was, and the Internet increases variety and competition. But the control of communications by the government should always be a point of major concern.

Unknown said...

well, I guess, Bonape was short too.

Unknown said...

I think they got the wrong Napoléon, Sarkozy is more alike Napoléon III in my opinion...

Anonymous said...

along the same lines:
http://www.maitre-eolas.fr/2009/01/06/1265-le-juge-enfin-pendu-dansez-messires

http://www.lepost.fr/article/2009/01/08/1379705_juge-d-instruction-quand-france-2-interroge-par-hasard-l-avocat-de-sarkozy.html

http://www.arretsurimages.net/vite.php?id=2926
http://www.lepost.fr/article/2009/01/09/1380096_a.html