Monday, February 1, 2010

Flying Purple Pizza Eater

Sarko's new ride will have a pizza oven and a shower (h/t Sophie).

Blanchard Interview

Interview with Olivier Blanchard, IMF chief economist, on the crisis.

Fabius, Depardieu, Mélenchon

Laurent Fabius (see video) responds to Frêche's comment, saying that for him there is no doubt that the words were "anti-Semitic," while implying that he distinguishes between Frêche's words and Frêche himself. Aphatie reveals, however, that Gérard Depardieu has written a letter in support of Frêche's use of "a common French expression," while on the other side we also learn that Jean-Pierre Raffarin called Fabius to offer his consolation. Meanwhile, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, with characteristic subtlety, denounces the whole affair as a manipulation orchestrated by the PS:

La veille et le jour même nous étions saturés d’informations à propos de la grande manœuvre de la rue de Solferino contre Frèche.  Il aura fallu passer la journée à répondre à une apparence de situation, « le PS sauve son âme plutôt qu’une région », alors même que nous en connaissions tous le dessous des cartes, lequel n’a rien à voir avec les versions officielles rabâchées jusqu'à la nausée comme d’habitude.
And yet every cloud (and every dérapage) has a silver lining:

Mélenchon: Cette histoire avec Frèche [sic] est pain béni (ça c’est catholique), pour notre liste d’union de toute l’autre gauche «à gauche maintenant», en Languedoc

In short, we have here a classic French "mini-affair" in which everyone is free to present or invent à l'envi perfidious motives for the behavior of his enemies. This penchant for the second degree is ultimately wearisome and becomes, for the spectator, a kind of third degree (in both the figurative and the colloquial American senses).

L'Esprit Florentin Lives, or Deplorable Journalism?

Gérald Andrieu writes that the PS hasn't forgotten Mitterrand's old ruse of quietly allowing the FN candidate to divide the right-wing vote in order to prevail in a triangulaire. "We mustn't demonize Thierry Mariani," an unidentified member of the PS National Secretariat is supposed to have said recently in PACA. "We know that he belongs to the hard right. But there's no need to remind voters of that, to remind them of the DNA tests ..."

According to Andrieu, this ruse is supposed to encourage the more xenophobic of right-wingers to cast their votes for the FN rather than the UMP by not reminding them that Mariani might well satisfy their anti-immigrant zeal himself. I have my doubts. I think voters have a pretty good idea who Mariani is, and if they vote for the FN it will be because they prefer their racism straight up. And I don't much like Andrieu's practice of putting words (in quotes) in the mouth of "a member of the PS national secretariat" without giving a name or a source (did he attend the meeting, or are the quoted words hearsay from a possibly interested party?).

Marianne makes a habit of this sort of thing. It's unhealthy. It's good to have an independent oppositional press, but it ought to set some standards for itself.

Persecution Pays

Forty-nine percent of the French want Villepin to be a candidate in 2012. On the left (always sympathetic to victims), the figure rises to 55%. The prosecutor (and, no doubt, in the minds of most people, Sarkozy) has done more for Villepin's political fortunes than anything he could have done for himself. Theater of the absurd, to be sure, but what else has French politics been lately?