Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Another Way to Bury the Affair

OK, now François Baroin, current minister of the budget, has announced that the Inspection des Finances will investigate the Woerth affair. Obviously they think this will prick the blister. The strategy is now clear: announce a ministerial shakeup for October, back Woerth publicly, launch an internal investigation, and try to keep the lid on:

Invité du journal télévisé de France 2, mercredi 30 juin, le ministre du budget, François Baroin, a annoncé qu'il allait saisir l'Inspection générale des finances afin qu'elle mène une enquête sur l'affaire Woerth-Bettencourt et qu'elle mette "tout sur la place publique". Le rapport devrait être disponible dans "une dizaine de jours", selon le ministre. (France 2)

It might even work. This isn't the United States. No special prosecutors. No out-of-control cable news networks. No more caustic comedians on the radio. Generally docile media. If MediaPart had any more in its recordings, we'd know it by now, right?  If Le Canard enchaîné had the goods, they'd be out there. Etc. etc. So Sarko has concluded that all he's got on his hands is a perception problem, to be handled by the usual methods. I'm not so sure.


Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure either.
Two things:
- When the "belt-tightening" was announced, virtually all people were scandalized because what was called "belt tightening" they'd believed was... normal professional ethics, i.e., you don't pay for your personal expenses with the company credit card.
Boomerang effect, even among right-leaning people and UMP supporters.
The ministers speaking in the news about how "normal" their situation is (i.e, getting a cushy pension while holding cabinet position being paid for not speaking..), also caused an uproar on the right.
All of this counterproductivity seems poorly measured by Sarkozy.
So on that account alone I'd agree with your "not-so-sure".
- Christine Lagarde spoke about the US and their (I quote the general idea if not the exact words) exagerated, basically talibanesque process of "vetting" political candidates and cabinet members, promising that such excesses would never take place in a civilized, reasonable country like France. Oddly, the response was not the expected "Americans-Puritans" reflex. In fact, the idea surprised many, in a positive way.

Mediapart seems to have a treasure trove: they have one new story every day. And now the French are hooked, so they're following - if not closely, at least with a certain interest usually reserved for suspenseful mysteries and for TV celebrities+their latest hookups.

Someone told me that in these cases, the minister is asked to resign and all is forgiven, the French forget it all. Do you think this would still work?

Anonymous said...

Confirmation that you're right:
FranceSoir is pro-UMP and easy to read.
Yet the intro shows Nicolas Sarkozy clearly misjudging the situation:
Le chef de l’Etat a demandé aux députés UMP de soutenir Eric Woerth.
Il sanctionnera certains « comportements ministériels » lors d’un
remaniement en octobre.
« Les socialistes ont tellement peu de choses à dire sur les retraites
qu’ils s’en prennent à un bouc émissaire. Il ne faut pas céder ! »

The title is "la colère froide de l'Elysée", and the anger is not directed at Eric Woerth for his doings, but at those who bought $15,000 worth of cigars (already a purchase likely to raise eyebrows when people are supposed to accept sacrifices - the symbol is clear, too) but on top of it used taxpayers' money to pay for them!

As for the redirect to Royal, it's not taking. She's right when she says she was merely stating what people think, they don't care it's she who said it because there's real unease/anger; it'll be hard to pin the blame on her.BTW, hers was a real politician's sentence: the system, not anyone specific, is (has been?) "corrupted" or "corrupt", kind of like a corrupt system, a corrupt file... but the association with "corruption" is there.