Monday, February 20, 2012

The Sarkozy Campaign Poster Gaffe

In the Age of the Internet, you just can't get away with anything. It seems that the Sarkozy campaign purchased a background image for its campaign poster, "La France Forte," showing Sarko posed against an azure sky. But an alert viewer checked out the digital version posted by Le Figaro and discovered that the sea in the background is the Aegean. Since the whole theme of Sarkozy's campaign is to present himself as the one man tough enough to administer the dose of austerity allegedly capable of saving France from becoming Greece, the selection of this particular background is indeed unfortunate.

Crony Capitalists in Musical Chairs

It's almost as French as going gaga over un feuilleton américain chez les riches, a Dallas or a Dynasty. The plot twists are dizzying. You see, Henri Proglio, National Order of Merit, Legion, of Honor, and head of EDF, used to be head of Veolia, the water and waste management conglomerate. He was also, shall we say, close to Rachida Dati, the glamorous ex-justice minister. She and Henri accompanied the president and the then first lady to their first, not-so-idyllic vacation in New Hampshire, back when Nicolas was still Sarkozy l'Américain, yearning for nothing more than a hot dog and a cold swim with the Bushes.

But so much has changed since then. Rachida had a baby, by whom no one knows, and in the end fell out with Nicolas, perhaps because she and the new Mme Sarkozy didn't get on. Henri managed to get his nemesis Anne Lauvergeon ousted as head of Areva after himself taking over at EDF. Meanwhile, Jean-Louis Borloo, who was to have replaced François Fillon as prime minister, got shafted when the UMP rebelled and forced Sarko to stick with the stolid but predictable Fillon. Then, in a fit of pique, Borloo went about Paris giving interviews, holding meetings, and pretending to organize a political party that would have been his vehicle to mount a challenge to Sarkozy.

Got all that? It's an overstuffed plot, I know, but it's so hard to keep the drama alive over five years of daily soap opera that the plots inevitably seem a bit cheesy. Then, however, in the penultimate show leading up to the fifth-season finale of Dynastie-sur-Seine, Borloo abruptly canceled any plans he had to become president, and now it seems he may instead be parachuted in as top man at Veolia, Proglio's old firm, where apparently Henri maintains close ties to certain henchmen and is in the process of orchestrating a coup to topple his own handpicked successor.

Whew, what a surprise! Any connection between Borloo's dropping out of the presidential race and the sudden buzz about his taking over Veolia? It would be crass to suggest such a thing. Meanwhile, what about Henri's ex, Rachida? Why, she's bucking the party stalwarts for a place in Paris that has been reserved for Fillon, Borloo's vanquisher, as a golden parachute when he at last gives up the reins of France, Inc., in May, after the Chairman of the Board is either sacked or decides to bring in a new CEO. Every soap opera needs a woman scorned and capable of filling the role of vindictive villainess, and Mme Dati appears to relish the part.

It would make for a good TV show--better TV than government, I suspect.