Friday, December 2, 2011

Discours de Toulon bis

In 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy gave a much publicized speech in Toulon on the subject of "moralizing capitalism." Yesterday, with an incredible mise en scène that had him speaking before a robin's-egg blue backdrop before an audience of 5,000 people, he offered up a desperate plea to save capitalism as it has been constructed in Europe over the past half-century. Although the president's demeanor was, as always, supremely confident, the offer he put on the table was one of surrender. Surrender, first of all, to Germany, to which he proposed to submit French finances to binding sanctions, if only the Germans will agree to let the ECB rescue Italian bonds and the French banks that depend on them. To this part of his speech Angela Merkel will respond responded today with a speech of her own, in which all indications are she will say yes to budgetary oversight but no to an ECB-led bailout. (In fact, she said that budgetary oversight was a necessary precondition of more ECB help, but with no indication of timing, which is critical. She also called the idea of Eurobonds "unthinkable.")

Surrender, too, to critics of the EU, to whom he offered an appeal for a total overhaul of European treaties for whose ratification he campaigned so vigorously only a short while ago. Mélenchon said that the president's enumeration of Europe's shortcomings was nothing but a "copy-and-paste job" on the campaign materials of the 2005 anti-ratification campaign, and he wasn't altogether exaggerating:
"Deux ans après , le voici qui fustige, par une sorte de copié-collé de nos documents de 2005, l'Europe du libre-échange, l'Europe de la concurrence libre et non faussée, l'Europe du dumping social et fiscal, alors que c'est lui qui a organisé tout ça". "C'est son bilan dont il a fait la critique!", a-t-il lancé sous les applaudissements.
And there we are.