Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pécresse's Rhetoric

Valérie Pécresse turned up the volume and the heat in the university strike yesterday. The minister's wish to be done with the strike is understandable, but her rhetoric is not. She accused strikers of holding the vast majority of students "hostage" and of neglecting parents who "bled themselves from four veins" to send their children to college. Who would have thought that university reform would lead to such extremity of language, while retirement reform proceeded at a much lower decibel level?

Walking past the Sorbonne yesterday, I saw a handful of strikers gathered around a leader with a megaphone. Unfortunately, he hadn't switched the megaphone on, so I couldn't hear what he was saying, despite being only a few feet away. Pécresse, on the other hand, seemed inflamed with rage--though perhaps she was only mugging for the TV cameras in the chamber. Time, perhaps, for Sarko to step in and calm things down--though of course it was he who poured oil on the university fires several months ago with his insulting speech. But he has shown a knack for tactical retreat in the past, and this might be a good time to try another flanking maneuver.