Monday, March 29, 2010

Sarko on the Upper West Side

Every once in a while, one really should watch a Sarkozy speech in its entirety. Today he spoke at Columbia University. The other day, when he spoke to the French after the elections, I said that he seemed to be scolding misbehaving children. Today he condescended to another group of children. These were not his own, so he tried to conceal his annoyance with them. He came across as something between an insufferable uncle and an amateur rendering of Polonius in a high-school version of Hamlet. His gestures seemed to have been practiced before a mirror; his lines, to have been written in a simplified French, as if to make it easier for his audience to understand him. He flattered Joe Stiglitz in the audience but in the question and answer session made clear his contempt for economic theory, about which he confessed to know nothing. But then again, he said he didn't need Mr. Smith (Adam, that is), because his job was to turn "information" into "decisions." He takes a great deal of satisfaction in his self-confidence. May it never desert him. What a pitiful spectacle he would make if it did.

And I might add that he made quite a point of speaking without a text. The text kills the creativity, he said, although he seemed to have memorized his speech, not to improvise it. Why bother to travel if one is going to read one's text? Mail the text instead. Was this a barb at Obama and his teleprompter?  Has Sarko been watching Fox News?


MYOS said...

Does he realize who the Columbia students are and who his public likely was?
(overachievers, movers and shakers, upper-class kids, young people interested in international politics and likely to be involved with it later on?)

Seriously, Sarko seems off his game. Not just because of the elections because it started before.
When Carla Bruni speaks of his health (a reason why she doesn"t want him to be a candidate in 2011), perhaps it's not just a ploy to win sympathy and make us all go "regardless, he's the only one who can save us from the PS mess!" I don't know. He used to be quite the performer.

MYOS said...

re: the "children" reference, here:

MYOS said...
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MYOS said...

And for some reactions from students who attended the speech:

gregory brown said...

I didn't watch or hear the speech, but from this write-up and the Times story it seems to me the issue of abandoning the text is part of his standard self-positioning as an authentic speaker who expresses feeling ("du coeur") as opposed to (and with no small degree of antipathy for) those who merely reason and calculate, ie academics and intellectuals.

In other words, it wasn't Obama he was sniping it, it was ...well, us.