Saturday, May 21, 2011

French Women Bloggers on the DSK Scandal

Here. (h/t HF)

On Blogging in a Tsunami

It's now a week, almost to the hour, since the first news of DSK's arrest popped up in my inbox. It's been a hectic seven days: I've been on TV twice, on radio in the US once and in France once, have posted about five times as often as usual, and have seen a five- to six-fold increase in traffic. When I got into blogging, it was in the hope of giving myself a good reason to follow the French news more closely than I did previously and to make that news available in English (to the extent possible), as well as to reflect on events. In the past week, I've been doing too little reflecting and too much relaying. It's difficult for one person to keep up this pace, so I'm not going to. In any case, the shock having begun to subside, I expect that news production will return to a more normal rhythm. In the mean time, the week has offered up quite a number of themes that bear more substantial thinking. I hope to return to them as time permits. For now, I'm taking the night off (although I'll be attending a dinner party, where I'll no doubt have to repeat much of what I've been saying for the benefit of others who haven't been following the story quite as closely--although repeating oneself is tiresome). So, bon weekend et à bientôt.

Jacques Follorou Defends American Justice System


Ce qui choque, en France, finalement, c'est cette culture de contre-pouvoir américain. Chez nous, historiquement, la justice a été construite pour protéger les biens et les personnes, et non pour s'ériger en véritable pilier de la démocratie, à hauteur des pouvoirs politique et économique.

DSK Sharing Building with Rapper and 9 Other Bailees

DSK is currently housed near Wall St. in a building owned by the security firm that has charge of him. Eight or nine other people in the building are also out on bail.

The Dark Side of American Justice

Le Monde discusses the strategy of the private investigators hired by DSK's lawyers. This is the dark side of American justice. Until now, DSK has been treated "normally" by the courts, but his vast means allow him to spend large sums on discrediting the chief witness against him, his alleged victim. He can thus pay for a defense not available to the "normal" defendant. The paper suggests $500,000 as a plausible sum, with investigators being sent as far as Guinea to search for derogatory information about the women and her entourage.

Of course the prosecutors will use these large sums to discredit the defense, to play on the emotions of the jurors by portraying DSK as a wealthy man trying to buy his way out of a heinous crime.

One has to count on the good sense of the jurors to sort out truth from fiction and defamation. I've served on three juries and have always been impressed by the seriousness with which jurors take their task. But juries, being human, are fallible. So we'll just have to wait and see how the case goes.

What Would Have Happened in France?

The DSK affair has forced people on both sides of the Atlantic to think about the merits and defects of our respective justice systems. A friendly dialogue continues with Bernard Girard, for example. But I put this question to those of you who know the French system: What would have happened if this allegation had arisen in France? I know that many will say immediately that it would have been made to go away, that power and influence would have been brought to bear on the alleged victim, who might have been paid to retract her story, and somehow it would have been kept out of the papers.

That's the cynical response, and I don't deny that such things can happen. But let's assume that things didn't go that way. Let's assume that the woman stuck to her story, that the police were incorruptible, and that the case landed in the lap of a zealous juge d'instruction. Key question: Would a man accused of a violent sexual assault have been released back into the community? Would he have been able to keep his job at the IMF? Wouldn't the newspapers and other media have relayed all the lurid stories about his past, just as they have done after his incarceration in the US? Wouldn't he likely have been forced out of the presidential race, pending resolution of the case? Wouldn't his lawyers go after the victim, as they no doubt will in the US (to the extent that the judge allows them to--not all evidence is admissible in the US). Can anyone enlighten me about this?

Female Journalists "Defend" DSK--well, um, sort of

This is a defense?

"Nos trois expériences se répondent. Aucun doute l'homme était dragueur, souvent un peu lourd. Les invitations galantes ou les plongées dans les décolletés étaient un gimmick quasi obligé des débuts de conversation, comme une entrée en matière avant d'en venir au coeur du sujet (...) Mais jamais nous n'avons été agressées ni menacées."
 As the reports continue to roll out, the picture that emerges makes it impossible to avoid the conclusion that the mores of the French political class must change. And I say "political class" in general and not just DSK because the very attitude of these women--accepting as perfectly normal behavior that in my book can only be described as goujaterie lourdingue--makes it clear that he is not the only one to issue invitations galantes ou les plongées dans les décolletés. This is what passes for "a great seducer?" The reputation of the French male will never recover.

Eric Brunet Makes Sense

Not something I would ordinarily say. But when he's right, he's right:

Le mépris des medias francais pour la victime de... by Inside75000

Et après? The Socialists Haven't Quite Figured That Out

The real test of leadership is how one reacts to the unexpected. So far the Socialists have failed the test, and I say this as one who hopes for a victory of the left next April. Some are waiting for the miracle that will bring DSK back to resolve all their differences. Others are saying that the primary must be abolished, either in order to leave time for DSK to be acquitted and still enter the race or to avoid a fratricidal bloodletting. Manuel Valls, supposedly a cool centrist, looked like a madman on TV, and it's only too easy to imagine the UMP attack ads if by some trick of fate he were to become the candidate. Hollande, it turns out, was in on the Tristane Banon affair, and one wonders how many other Socialist leaders could have been unaware of this potential bombshell if Hollande knew about it. Surely Ségolène Royal, who was his companion at the time, must have heard, which to some degree undermines her rather dignified response to date. Looking only at the surface, Royal has comported herself rather well. Aubry has also been composed and measured, but one can't really say that she has moved forcefully to impose discipline on the party, whereas Sarkozy--who has an easier job of it, to be sure--has kept his troops in line (except for the occasional Bernard Debré) and avoided la débandade that is all too evident chez les Socialistes.

This obvious disarray can only hurt the party next April. Meanwhile, the appalling spectacle of elite males making asses of themselves and saying the most outrageous things--il n'y a pas mort d'homme, troussage de domestique, la présomption d'innocence n'existe pas aux États-Unis, dans les palaces new-yorkais les femmes de chambre travaillent en brigade--is, I am told, generating revulsion at the grass roots.

I don't have a vote in France, but if I did, I would be reassessing my options at this point, as I suspect many in France are. The damage done by the DSK Affair is still incalculable, and I am having a hard time envisioning a positive outcome--unless it is finally to raise consciousness about the ravages of machismo, the arrogance of power, elite indifference to the rules that regulate the lives of ordinary people, etc. And please, please, please let this be the final nail in BHL's coffin. Why this buffoon is taken seriously not only in France but also in the US is beyond me.

Comments as Spam

Many people have been commenting over the past few days, and unfortunately Blogger has been flagging some of your comments as spam. When this happens, I receive a copy of your comment by e-mail, but there is no indication that it has been trashed. It's not until I check the spam filter, which I do periodically, that I find your comments and release them into the world. My apologies for the delay, but I can't check the spam filter every five minutes. So please bear with me. I appreciate all your comments.