Monday, January 11, 2010


France discovers Churchill, while America, thanks to a new biography by Larissa Taylor, discovers Joan of Arc--whom David Bell, in this review, ranks along with Churchill as one of history's "endlessly fascinating" characters. That said, it would appear that Bell fears that Joan's fascination has eluded her biographer, who provides a "lucid, reliable narrative" but fails "to confront the past in all its utter strangeness." A pity--for, as anyone who has ever seen the FN celebrating the cult of Joan on May 1 in the place des Pyramides can attest, the voices that spoke to la Pucelle have continued ever since to whisper in the ears of other illuminated defenders of la grande nation.

France Discovers Churchill

A new translation of Churchill's memoirs by François Kersaudy is apparently doing well in France. Charles Bremner blames the old translation for the book's failure to make a mark in France before now, and the long list of howlers that he supplies supports his case. In any way, justice has now been done to the text by Kersaudy.

La Meute

Another dog has joined the pack: François Hollande made it clear that he is running for president in 2012. There were no cheering crowds. The announcement--actually more of une petite phrase than an announcement: "je ne suis plus dans les petits rôles ou dans les personnages secondaires"--came in typical Hollande style, in a meeting with the press. It takes a lot of preparation to run for president, he said. Of course one might say that Hollande has been preparing for more than a decade, with little to show for his efforts. But perhaps he will turn out to be a late bloomer.

Manuel Valls has welcomed him to the pack, while calling for a "large majority" in favor of a law banning the burqa--a position at odds with the declared position of the PS, at least according to its spokesman Benoît Hamon. As Hollande says, a presidential election is won in the first round, so one has to make it clear before the first round with whom one is going to govern. Valls seems to be making a point of saying that if he's the Socialist candidate, he will make it clear that he intends to govern with the right, at least on issues of symbolic import without practical effect.

Has Besson Fallen Out of Favor?

Yes, according to Jean-François Kahn, but not for the reason you might think. The debate on national identity isn't the issue... because it was Sarko's idea, says Kahn. No, it was rather the debate on the reform of capitalism that Besson organized. According to Kahn, he failed to provide audiences for the head of state and the prime minister and is therefore guilty of lèse-majesté. The Elysée is also out to remove Laurence Parisot, in Kahn's opinion.