Friday, April 6, 2012

Sarko Goes Negative

Arun Kapil has an interesting post on Sarkozy's adoption of a particularly harsh tone toward his opponent. Arun can't recall another instance of such vitriol in the annals of French presidential politics. It seems that Sarkozy, who has always had a mean streak and a pugnacious attitude, has lately decided that he must adopt the negative campaigning that has been so effective in recent American presidential contests.

But Sarkozy has chosen to be his own "attack dog," to use the colloquial American parlance for a role usually assigned to a vice-presidential candidate, party hack, or, in recent years, political action committee. Even in the US, where politeness has never been a feature of our politics, the principal in a campaign usually tries to maintain some distance between himself and the more vituperative characterizations of his opponent (although this years crop of Republicans have not been bashful about making ad hominem attacks on Obama).

Sarkozy's problem is that he has no allies who are as good at knife-fighting as he is. When NKM had to fill in for him the other day, she couldn't bring herself to be as nasty as the master. So Sarko has decided to do the job himself, and if Arun is right, he is likely to shock French mores, which expect a certain politesse, particularly in a sitting president. The current strategy will only recall the "Casse-toi pauvr' con" moment, which contributed to the sharp fall in Sarkozy's popularity early in his presidency.

Here's Arun:
Lest one get the wrong idea I am not an historic Sarkozy-hater. During the 2001-07 period I found him to be an interesting politician, a breath of fresh air on the right, supported him in his bras de fer with Chirac and Villepin, and defended him with lefty Sarko-hating friends and family members. And while I didn’t vote for him in 2007—my first election here as a citizen—I wasn’t disappointed by his victory. But that was then and this is now. In view of his conduct in office over the past five years and particularly during this campaign, I pronounce him to be a revolting, loathsome SOB who does not deserve to be reelected. If he somehow pulls it off on May 6th, I will consider it to be a true injustice, as it will demonstrate that demagoguery and cynicism in politics do work.


TexExile said...

If Sarko wins, which I consider rather unlikely but far from impossible, I think it will be in spite of his antics more than because of them. His best grounds for hope are his opponent's persona and strategy rather than his own campaigning. He deserves to lose, but then the right has deserved to lose more than one national election in recent memory and the left has repeatedly rescued it.

Merlin said...

French presidential elections have always been about selecting the "less bad". Hollande only chance is to surf the TSS wave, and Sarkozy is to destroy his adversary by whatever means. This is life. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

I'd rather have a SOB than an idiot not even able to be respected by his own "camarades" in the Elysée palace.

The aftermath of the election will be dreadful and you don'y want a wishy washy wanker in charge.

squiggle said...

'Sarkozy is to destroy his adversary by whatever means. This is life. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.'

No, I can't agree with that. The problem is that Sarkozy's 'heat' degrades his office. He may win the election by appealing to people's baser fears but he makes the office that much less. It isn't all just about the short term win (for an example, look at the degrading of US politics by loud, vulgar elements of the Republican party. It worked for a while but A) it lessened the whole system and B) it wrecked their own party as can be seen in its current problems).

Merlin said...

It seems to me that degrading the office was the name of the game with almost all the previous incumbents: Mitterrand, Chirac, etc.

The only difference is "style". Mitterrand always struck me as a pompous, vain, bourgeois, cynical and tired. A laughing stock for everybody except the French who believe that style is substance.

FrédéricLN said...

One a the basics when appointing to a job is: take a person who really wants the job. Over the choice approaches, this criterion is more salient. And Sarkozy outperforms all opponents on such a scale. As he was outperforming Villepin and others in 2006-2007, as Bruno Le Maire's book tells it.

Of course, the best candidate would rather be the one with the highest involvement in the office — which is slightly different, and Sarkozy doesn't score as high on this other scale.

Shard said...

Yeah, Merlin, I have to agree with Squiggle. Sarko's constant pandering to the extreme Right's voters will polarize the situation in France, leaving it like the US, with an institutional "Left" in the place of the Institutional Right and the Institutional Right shoved into neo-Fascism. Unless that's the "aftermath" you're talking about... You seem to take an amoral approach to politics. That's fine until it puts a frankly evil individual in power, and then the issue of morality becomes important.