Friday, November 4, 2011

Obama and Sarkozy's Excellent Adventure

Barack Obama, after needling Nicolas Sarkozy in a rather unpresidential way yesterday--he said that it was "an excellent thing" that Sarko's newborn daughter would inherit her mother's looks rather than his--did him an extraordinary favor today by agreeing to sit for a lengthy interview in French and English by David Pujadas and Laurence Ferrari. The diplomatic justification was no doubt to show financial markets that the US and Europe are on the same page in dealing with the crisis. Sarkozy was the host of the G20, so he gets to stand in for Europe. But he is also an undeclared candidate to succeed himself as president of France, and Obama cannot have been unaware that he was doing a political favor for a leader with whom he has not always enjoyed warm relations.

Will it do anything for Sarkozy in the polls? There are too many opportunities for failure in the weeks ahead, but if the euro crisis calms, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sarko obtain a small boost from this evening's show, which eager commentators will seize upon as a sign of an impending comeback. The truth is that the fortunes of both presidents--Obama and Sarkozy--are hostage to events not entirely in their control.


Brian W. Ogilvie said...

France Info reported this morning that the joint interview was cooked up by the White House and the Elysée, though without any indication of which staff took the lead. TF1 (I think--one of the two, at least) had requested interviews with Obama months ago, but not a joint interview, which was foisted upon them.

And Obama really said that about the baby's looks? I thought it was something that had been invented by the writers for Les Guignols!

Anonymous said...


I found this TV show a bit boring. I think Bian is quite right. I add that Nicolas is used to teaching lessons about how to accept criticism when you live in a democratic country. I think he's in a bad position to do it when he doesn't accept reproach upon himself.

Cincinna said...

   In French culture,  It is considered extremely rude  to make comments about someone's personal appearance. 
   For a Head of State like Obama, speaking in an official capacity at an international summit to make comments about the wife of another head of State,  is rude, tasteless, and insulting. Obama also chewed gum during meetings. 
   Sarko has a quick, wry wit, and gave a stunning retort. Obama didn't even realize he was hit. 
   The State Department should have briefed Obama on the culture and manners of the host country.
    Obama has little understanding or sensibility for European culture (his faux pas during his State visit to Queen Elizabeth II, talking during the playing of "God Save the Queen", the British National Anthem, is but another example). 

George Ross said...

Watching this, after the incredible turbulence of the preceding days, the failure of Sarko's G-20 show, and the huge display of European ineptness and Franco-German muscle-flexing about the bedevilled George Papandreou's referendum, it became clear that Sarkozy believes that the French are so stupid that they will be taken in by the lowest of low farce. And that Antenne 2 and Pujadas lent themselves to this made it even more shocking. It was craven and belittling and why Obama stooped to it was puzzling indeed.

DavidinParis said...

@ Cincinna-unless I am missing some sort of dry wit on your part, all I can say is "casse-toi, pauvre..."...well, you get the idea.
I guess they both would appear sterling if they had Silvio Berlusconi on hand to widen the spectrum of proper behavior.

Cincinna said...

If you are American, you should learn that try to hurl insults & curse in a foreign language is risky business when you don't speak excellent French and direct your low comments against a woman.
If you are French, which I doubt, you should be ashamed if yourself for showing how mal élevé you are using such foul language on an academic forum where people disagree, but are almost always polite and civil.
The case in point was the less than statesman-like remarks by Obama referring to the appearance if the President of France's wife and baby. This is a no-no in France, and almost every where else. A Head of State being seen chewing gum in public at an International Summit is a faux pas and breach of comportment and protocol. He is supposed to represent America, not the stereotype if the gum chewing, overly familiar, ugly American.
We have French friends visiting with us for a week and they were offended, and feel their country was being treated shabbily. How can you defend the indefensible? And why?

DavidinParis said...


No offense intended...I was quoting Sarko (didn't you get that?). In case you missed this funny moment in the life of NS, have a look at this link:

DavidinParis said...

Ah come on kind of over reacted..n'est-ce pas?