Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jouanno Replaces NKM

Chantal Jouanno, énarque, ecologist, ultra-Sarkozyste, and 12-time French karate champion, is Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet's replacement as secretary of state for ecology.

Morin: No Help for Barack from Sarko

As predicted here months ago, France will not respond favorably in the short term to any request from the Obama administration for increased troop levels in Afghanistan. (h/t Dan Drezner)

Gloves Off

It looks like the gloves are off in the war between Laurence Parisot and parties unknown who would like to see her ousted as head of the Medef. L'Express reveals that she pays her personal advisor, Rosine Lapresle, 300,000 euros a year, making her the highest paid employee of the Medef. Lapresle's name has been linked to Parisot's before, in particular in this article dated last June. Given the nature of French libel laws, both publications dance around their innuendo. The elephant has nevertheless been released into the room.

Yesterday it was Sarko and his personal trainer; today it's Parisot and her personal advisor.

No R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Of Aretha Franklin's rendition of My Country 'Tis of Thee at the inauguration Jean-Claude Narcy said this on TF1: “Vous avez vu, comme elle à interprété ça ! On devait chanter comme ça dans les champs de coton !” Rama Yade tried to correct him: “style incantation dans les églises." Guess there's no French word for Gospel-cum-Soul.

Not a "Crumb Sweeper"

The UMP is not a "crumb sweeper." Ramasse-miettes: it sounds better in French and puts one in mind of one of those fancy restaurants where the snooty waiter makes you uncomfortably conscious of what a messy eater you are by ostentatiously cleansing the table of the detritus of your meal. But in this case the term is being used metaphorically, by Axel Poniatowski, to describe Eric Besson, the Socialist turncoat who seems promis à un bel avenir in Sarko's UMP. Sarkozy likes the chap, for whatever reason, and it's no secret that he isn't all that keen on any number of the caciques of the party that served him so admirably as a vehicle to the presidency. So he's doing a makeover with young, fresh blood: Xavier Bertrand, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, and now Besson. Gone are the streetfighters who came in from the cold, abandoning the extreme right for the corridors of power. The new cadres are sleek, ambitious, telegenic--"modern," in a word.

It's an interesting maneuver. One would have thought Eric Besson, the economist, a better man to take charge of the stimulus plan than Devedjian, the brass-knuckled party enforcer, but Sarko has switched their roles. Besson is beholden to the president, sa créature as they used to say in the Ancien Régime; Devedjian was not, and wasn't altogether with the program. Perhaps that's why he's been kicked upstairs. Bertrand also owes his ascension to his principal.

But a strategy of noyauter de loyauté is no doubt too simple an explanation. There is also a change of rhetoric from harsh and combative to smooth and persuasive: le boniment, quoi! Bertrand used to sell insurance. Now, in a time of crisis, he will sell assurance, and Besson will help him out with statistics for the boys with the green eyeshades. The party's not a ramasse-miettes: it's a corporation, and the staff at human resources has sifted through the talent and put the people with the best front in the publicly visible posts. The guys with the brass knuckles can work in the bowels of the organization.

Socialist Stimulus Plan

Here it is. And it's got some good ideas.