Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another Perspective on Hard Times

An interesting témoignage from Clichy-sous-Bois.

Time for a Shakeup

One begins to have that itching in the palms that can connote only one thing: the imminence of a ministerial shakeup. French politics (and its doppelgänger French Politics) has been in the doldrums for some time now. Inaction has emerged as the chosen response to the crisis. The international scene is quiet, and the big summits are history. No elections loom, save the European, in which participation is predicted to hit historic lows. The loyal opposition is a circular firing squad.

So as we come up on the regime's second anniversary, the time seems ripe for un remaniement. Claude Guéant has said that there would be one at the midpoint in the presidency, but the midpoint of un quinquennat is really at the two-year mark, since the last year is consumed by preparations for the next presidential election. So it's time, and it's known that Dati will be going soon. Cashiering her will look less vindictive if her exit is accompanied by the swan songs of others. We don't know the results of the vaunted "ministerial evaluations," but we know that the displeasure of the palace has been mounting lately. The magazines are beginning to speculate about who covets what. The more interesting question is what mid-course correction the captain might choose to make, and I confess that Sarko's desires have become opaque of late, at least to me. The erstwhile omnipresident has for some time seemed content with less exposure, even before the Conseil d'Etat ruled that his media time must be counted, at least in part, in partisan totals. Has he settled in as un président fainéant, rather like the late Chirac, of whom he was so critical? Or is he just gathering his forces for another blitz? Does he have any idea where he wants to go, or where it might be possible to go in France's straitened circumstances? Or will he just play it by ear? Within the next month or two we should have a better idea.

For now, there's nothing to write about but small beer, but I refuse to follow the example of Marianne and wring my hands over the prospect of Morano at l'Education Nationale. Je m'en fous comme de l'an quarante.

P.S. Another way to fill the vacuum: with hot air about Sarkozy's supposed jealousy of Obama.

N'Importe Quoi from Perfidious Albion

The Independent, always cheeky but sometimes relevant, wildly misses the mark with its story on Rama Yade, which seems to be composed in equal measure of fantasies inspired by the "belle et rebelle" secretary of state, quips about her, unattributed waspishness, and moonstruck "philosophy":

The philosopher Pascal Bruckner also points out that the French, perhaps more than other nations, are easily seduced by physical beauty. "Her looks are certainly a big plus," he said. "She has come to stand for a rebellion of youth and beauty against the establishment ... She is hated for precisely the same reasons within the government. And that makes her allure all the greater."

If the establishment has nothing more to fear than this "rebellion of youth and beauty," it will stand for a thousand years. We do get this choice tidbit, however:

Mme Yade was invited to accompany M. Sarkozy on a trip to West Africa two weeks ago. Another minister, Brice Hortefeux – a friend of M. Sarkozy's for 30 years – is reported by Le Figaro to have "half-jokingly" told her: "You're coming with us. That's good. But we don't have to bring you back again." Considering her African origins and that M. Hortefeux used to be the immigration minister, Mme Yade is said to have found the remark offensive.

Could Hortefeux really have been that maladroit? If Le Figaro is the source, it must be true. (h/t World Politics Review)