Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nudge, nudge

Clive Davis wants to know what I think of Lucy Wadham's claim that "that it was the collective desire of the French people to be represented by a dominant and libidinous male, rather than a dominant and matriarchal female" that accounts for Nicolas Sarkozy's victory in 2007. For Wadham, Sarko is a "sex dwarf," that is, a short man who makes up in libido for what he lacks in stature. She describes sitting at a press conference in his line of sight as one of her great erotic experiences.

Well, Clive, I scarcely know where to begin. Having experienced the Sexual Revolution at first hand, back in the Sixties, I am tempted to say, with Marx, "First time tragedy, second time farce." Ms. Wadham needs to take a cold shower. True, Yasmina Reza did overhear Sarko telling another pol that "nous [referring to the French political class as a whole] sommes des bêtes sexuelles." But the president wears elevator shoes. Surely that has to be a turn-off, even supposing that voters were waiting to be ravished. Is it only the Right that wants to be taken by force? After all, the Left could have had Strauss-Kahn for its candidate instead of Royal. DSK's LQ (libidinal quotient ) is a matter of public record. So clearly the erotic theory of elections has its limitations. The Right could have had Villepin as its leading man, but it preferred the "dwarf."

If we are to speculate about the future of the parties in psychosexual terms, as Ms. Wadham urges, the future of the Socialists may look brighter than it does in more conventional analyses. Unless I miss my guess, Valls and Hamon make more palms sweat than Copé and Bertrand. To be sure, politics, it has been said, is show business for ugly people, and, like the big screen (movies), the small screen (TV) may have increased the premium on good looks and the je ne sais quoi of sexual chemistry. But I think I'll stick to politics and leave the romance writing to others more qualified.

Soyons sérieux

President Obama will be in France for D-Day + 65 years, and all the French media can talk about is how much the American president is annoyed with his French counterpart. The French don't seem to have noticed that Obama will be stopping first in Cairo or that his much-awaited speech to the Muslim world on Arab soil no doubt looms much larger in the minds of American officials than the photo-op in Normandy. Sarkozy may not have done himself any favors with his handling of the visit, but really, in the great scheme of things, it doesn't matter all that much that Barack and Michelle will enjoy a night on the town in Paris without the company of Nicolas and Carla. What Obama says in Cairo will be of historical importance; what he says and does in France will count only for la petite histoire. Soyons sérieux.

Rocard and Juppé debate Turkish EU Membership

Here. This is a curious debate. It's more about the nature of the EU than about the wisdom of admitting Turkey. An absurd objection, some will say: the wisdom of admitting Turkey depends on what you think the EU is and should be. Rocard, I would say, takes the view that what the EU is about is establishing a framework in which a group of contiguous nations can maximize the likelihood that peace rather than war will reign across their territories. Juppé says that his "opposition is primarily of an economic order," but he also describes Europe as potentially "the bearer of a project of civilization," which the admission of Turkey would somehow compromise by making the Union an "American Europe."

I have no idea what he means by that. Indeed, the two aspects of Juppé's position are somewhat contradictory. If the EU is primarily an economic union, then economic logic rather than "civilizational" boundaries should determine its future. Of course, if the question is the optimal size of an economic union, then Europe may already have exceeded its "natural frontiers." The whole debate seems badly framed, so that neither participant can make much headway. But with an EU parliamentary election looming, the objective isn't to make sense; it's rather to declare for or against Turkey in a sufficiently nebulous way not to offend the Turks yet in a sufficiently firm way to assert a partisan difference on the issue.