Thursday, November 5, 2009

On/Off the Record

There was an odd little story circulating this morning according to which someone "in the President's entourage" supposedly reported that Sarko thought Rama Yade had difficulty being a team player. Now it turns out it was Sarko himself in a supposedly off-the-record talk with 6 journalists, who in the end couldn't maintain the off-the-record pose. This after yesterday's story that Sarko wanted to cool things out in the Yade affair and today's story that her supervising minister, Roselyne Bachelot, had taken the conciliatory line to heart.

It looks like the incoherence in the majority starts at the top.

So why doesn't Yade, who tops the popularity polls, take Nadine Morano's hint and strike out on her own with a parting shot at a government from which she has probably gotten as much mileage as she's going to get? And why doesn't Fadela Amara do the same thing? Amara is accomplishing nothing by staying inside a government that has no intention of making the plight of the banlieues a major priority--especially not over the next several months, with elections looming. Amara owes this government nothing, so she should take the opportunity to escape while her credibility remains intact and try to raise the profile of suburban issues on the way out the door. Surely having a chauffeured limousine can't mean that much.

Not in France

I don't think this would fly in France:

Many colleges now require criminal background checks of all new employees. But the University of Akron -- in what some experts believe is a first -- is not only requiring a criminal background check, but is stating that new employees must be willing to submit a DNA sample.

Vive la France!


The situation of the press is worse than ever, journalists say.


I'm glad to see that more of you are commenting. The blogger feels less isolated when readers respond, even if it's to take issue. So keep the comments coming.

Treacherous Translation

Pierre Lellouche gets himself in trouble with "autistic" and "castrated."

Dining with the pols

Well, we can't all be lucky enough to rub shoulders with ministers in Widener Library, so for those of you condemned to live in Paris, here are some addresses if you're looking to have lunch in proximity to power. NB: I've eaten in some of these places and didn't have the feeling that I was at the center of the world.

Frank or Undisciplined?

Was Bernard Kouchner's little talk with the press what is called in diplomatic parlance a "frank" revelation of the French position, or was it another case of Kouchner running on at the mouth? I'm inclined to think the latter:

“We have to be together and improve the command structure,” he said. Asked if the NATO alliance was not working very well in Afghanistan, he said: “It’s not working at all.”

“What is the goal? What is the road? And in the name of what?” Mr. Kouchner asked. He said he appreciated President Obama’s deliberations on a new Afghan strategy, but asked: “Where are the Americans? It begins to be a problem.” He added: “We need to talk to one another as allies.”

And then there was this:

He said that the NATO alliance had to get behind President Hamid Karzai despite his well documented problems with corruption and questionable political allies. “Karzai is corrupt, O.K.,” Mr. Kouchner said, but corruption is endemic in Afghanistan and “he is our guy,” despite being weakened by the recent election marked by fraud. “We have to legitimize him” if NATO has any chance to consolidate Afghanistan and then leave it, Mr. Kouchner said.

Western political experts who know nothing about Afghanistan detected fraud by sampling ballots, Mr. Kouchner said. “This is science. But politics is not science. It’s the common touch.”

What exactly was Kouchner trying to achieve with this discussion? It's baffling. If he's trying to hasten Obama along toward a firm decision and leadership of NATO, why announce publicly what everyone knows anyway, that the Karzai regime is corrupt? This can hardly help. And if he regrets the lack of discussion among European allies, then he should initiate a discussion with allies, not with journalists, and bring something to the table besides whining and états d'âme.

Instead of replacing Rama Yade, Sarkozy ought to replace Kouchner.