Monday, May 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

From Mona Ozouf in yesterday's JDD:

François Mitterrand had an extremely refined electoral and geographic knowledge of France. A strong attachment to its regions. But he wasn't the only one. Behind Georges Pompidou there was the Massif Central. Behind Jacques Chirac, the Corrèze. Behind François Bayrou, the Béarn. Behind Nicolas Sarkozy, by contrast, one sees nothing but Neuilly.


Leptitbenji said...

C'est vrai, mais on pourrait dire la même chose de tous les hommes politiques nés à Paris.

Kirk said...

Oh give me a break... This obsession with being "du terrior" is so bogus, I think everyone sees through it. They're all Parisians.

Anonymous said...

Sarko's the son of immigrants (and rich one's, to boot if it mattered)

there's something about Ozouf's comment that has a Sarah Palinesque-ring to it. As if those from the heartland are authentic whereas those from IDF, especially the rich parts of it, are inauthentic. even worse "nomadic" (I dare not go further down this route)

oh the politics of authenticity

Anonymous said...

It's not so much a "terroir" obsession as not being a "hors sol" plant. A security that they not only interact with their class and peers, like it can happen to rich bourgeois in Paris or Neuilly, but also with a cross-cut of the French society.
I would not have mind Beregovoy being a pure Parisian; I know Chirac interacted with all sorts of French, through its local mandate and its service in Algeria.
I get the feeling Sarkozy only ever met People at the Fouquet's, in the youth University of the RPR, in the diners en ville and on the beach à la mode this year.

Tom Holzman said...

I would disagree to some extent with Anonymous and Kirk. I think what Ozouf is saying is that the previous presidents were products of the regions and had at least a certain intuitive understanding of what might be called "La France Profonde" that perhaps Sarkozy, as a Parisian, lacks. I do not think we are dealing with Palinesque claims concerning authenticity, because, ultimately, as Kirk points out, they also became products of Paris. The distinction drawn by Ozouf is meaningful (and would also be true in the US) but not dispositive of anything.

Passerby said...

I agree with Tom's reading.

However, I wouldn't underestimate the authenticity factor either. Balladur lost an election on appearing elistist and parisian.
That Sarkozy got elected without "solid roots", can indicate that voters' views are changing. Or that they cared more about security than authenticity.

PS: A sidenote on the Paris-Province rivalry. The mother of all sins is not so much to be a parisian or live in Paris. It is to be "un provincial monté à Paris" acting condescending toward "la province".

Electors never accused Chirac, the Paris mayor, of parisianism.

MCG said...

I agree with Anonymous about "A security that they not only interact with their class and peers, like it can happen to rich bourgeois in Paris or Neuilly, but also with a cross-cut of the French society." Don't rich suburban kids in the U.S. often suffer from lack of experience with a wide variety of classes and occupations?

Anonymous said...

I think that anonymous misses the point: as difficult as it is for the French to accept "diversity", at least they've come to accept a particular meaning with regional diversity (and that's, what, 30 years old?)

Understanding that France is a patchwork of cultures and histories, with foods and wines that managed to survive even as the Republic steamrolled all provincial differences.

Also, just like Passerby, MCG, and Tom said: understanding France does not just mean understanding its diversity, it's also understanding its people.

To top it off, it's always good politically to show you worked your way to the top or that you come from a family where you had to prove your worth -- and Sarkozy behaves like someone who comes from money, entitlement included.

Neuilly is not Paris. Neuilly is like that area outside Philly where they have Bryn Mawr. It's insulated by its wealth, its belief in the way things-ought-to-be, and its location.

By the way, in terms of geographic knowledge of France, refined or otherwise: on Saturday, Sarkozy spoke of the Alsace Malgré-Nous, blaming Vichy. Now, any undergrad who's taken Euro history will tell you: Vichy= French collaboriationist regime of Southern France , Alsace = region in the North close to Germany. Vichy did not control Alsace in the least.
(I was like: ????????)

MYOS (blogger won't let me post under my name)

Anonymous said...

Nothing to do with this post. Just wondering if you have heard or read about this. The state wants to keep a tab on every young ones till they are 30 years old. Each visit to school psychiatrist - a dossier that reminds many of us about 1984. The govt wanted to include religious and ethnic orgin in their original plan that has been quashed now. The schools are coming into more more pressure to comply, even firing some directors for non-compliance. More on the subject here