Thursday, October 27, 2011


My Facebook stream has exploded with sarcasm--or should I say Sarkozm--directed against President Sarkozy's TV interview tonight. I watched only a few minutes--life is short, obligations are many--but once again I'm perplexed by the level and tenor of the hostility. It seemed to me that he wasn't too bad at explaining the broad parameters of the latest fix to the debt crisis: the Greek haircut, the guarantees to banks, the capital requirements, etc. Yes, he was a little extravagant in evoking the "barbarity" of past Franco-German history while adroitly sidestepping a question about whether the agreement was not in fact based almost entirely on Merkel's initiative, with which he was forced to comply. Yes, he alluded more than once too often to "Socialist errors" such as the 35 hr. week. Yes, he is not entirely convincing in the role of pedagogue, though he is rather good at explaining things clearly and succinctly.

It worries me that so many on the left are so furious with the president that they underestimate his strengths. He will be ruthless in exposing the contradictions in the Socialist platform, and his arguments are solid enough to require well-planned rebuttal. Sarkozm will not do; it is an incantation audible only  to those who already believe. His grammar may not be perfect, but he gets his points across. Hollande had better prepare well for the forthcoming debates.

(And incidentally, I just watched Sarkozy's plume, Henri Guaino, on Ruquier's program and thought he was quite formidable at demonstrating who he was on television--the very task for which Hollande has apparently had to undergo intensive training--see earlier post.)

P.S. I also learned from a Facebook friend that Marine Le Pen cited Paul Krugman and Amartya Sen during her TV appearance tonight. Staggering, or, as they say on Facebook, "OMG!"


Cincinna said...

Your analysis is quite on the mark. Irrational hatred leads to careless mistakes. Underestimating one's opponent can be fatal.
TV5MONDE is running the entire interview right now, 11pm EST. I'm going to watch the whole thing and judge for myself.

FrédéricLN said...

"Marine Le Pen cited Paul Krugman and Amartya Sen during her TV appearance tonight." Yes, as Nobel Prize laureates who will have explained why the euro could not work (as far as I remember her argument)!

The disregard of Sarkozy's explanations is quite easy to understand: he presents as obvious to-do's, "mon devoir", "ce qu'il faut faire", "le nécessaire", points that are exactly the opposite of his 2006-2007 claims, commitments and deeds (Remember "une économie qui ne s'endette pas suffisamment, c'est une économie qui ne croit pas en l'avenir, qui doute de ses atouts, qui a peur du lendemain"!). And he announces as the next steps, some changes that he already claimed to have achieved several times.

So, he perfectly knows nobody, even on his own side, can support him as a consistent leader. That's the reason why he needs a global foil, "la gauche", which would be simultaneously 1) responsible for the present situation, 2) unconscious of the same present situation, 3) committed to make it worse tomorrow.

And there, Mr Sarkozy's point is quite relevant, indeed. That may be the reason why Facebook addicts grumble.

FrédéricLN said...

Btw, a chat with the often excellent Françoise Fressoz:

Alex Price said...

Well for what it’s worth, I find the hostility to Sarkozy a little surprising as well. Of course an ongoing economic crisis takes a toll on a leader’s popularity. But perhaps Sarkozy has made enough political missteps that people feel justified in “piling on” and freely indulging in a not entirely justifiable or rational disdain, in making him into a kind of scapegoat. I think of my own feelings about George W. Bush. At a certain point during his presidency, I began to feel something like hatred toward him. A threshold had been passed and I ceased to make any attempt at charity; for me, he had been reduced to an object of contempt, and that was that. Something similar seems to have happened to Tony Blair towards the end of his tenure. The British public turned on him in a way that, to an outsider at least, seemed excessive.

Didier said...

Personally, I didn't watch Napoleon the Fourth on TV last night, but I learned he was watched by 11.9 millions viewers (6.9M on TF1 and 5M on France 2)whereas more than 12 millions watched TF1 on September 18th 2011 when DSK told us at last what had happened at the Sofitel last May.
Seriously, Sarkozy or Hollande, what difference? The two major parties have locked up themselves in a power-sharing frame over the past three decades, as if there were a tacit agreement between the UMP and The PS (UMPS).
Marine Le Pen? Will she spruce up the Elysée Palace in 2012? I don't think so. She won't be credible as long as she is shadowed by her father and his anti-Semitic and racist slips of the tongue and she will virtually be swept away by a UMPS coalition.
So, what do we do next ? Wait and see.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Sarkozy's lost credibility to such a point that anything he says (no matter how and what) is considered a pretty lie. Hence the deriding.
I also heard Hollande, yesterday. he said something along the lines of "Sarkozy will leave me 75 million extra debt". It's worrisome that he thinks the win is his to pluck.
Didier, I don't get your UMPS idea; to me, PS and UMP are very different. There's also Eva Joly and Melenchon to contend with, probably Bayrou, and who knows for Villepin?

DavidinParis said...

Sarkozy's biggest problem, as best I see it, is that he is not packaged according to French tastes. This is what got him elected (different, dare I say, maverick) and now he has proven that all those nervous ticks, bling-bling trips and beautiful wife are also responsible for the worst world economy since 1929. Odd reasoning, n'est-ce pas?