Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sarkozy on France2

Once again I had the impression that Candidate Sarkozy 2012 is but a pale shadow of Candidate Sarkozy 2007. David Pujadas started things off by asking about the aggressive tone of his first major speeches. "I don't know what you're talking about," replied the president. Pujadas reminded him that he had called Hollande a liar, and Sarkozy then launched into one of his standard litanies of high principle and low self-pity: A campaign is a confrontation of ideas, M. Pujadas, how can the French judge our ideas if I don't point out my opponent's contradictions, I've been president for 5 years, M. Pujadas, do you think I haven't taken any heat in all that time? Didn't another candidate call me un sale mec, and, mind you, I'm quoting. This is what you call aggressive, M. Pujadas? From one day to the next, I had to take the weight of the world's fifth largest economy on my shoulders, M. Pujadas, do you think a man is ready to shoulder that responsibility if he can't stand up to a little criticism, if he says one thing in one place and another in another?

The rhetorical trick of turning every question back on the questioner--Who hasn't made mistakes in his life, M. Pujadas? Do you think for a moment I don't reflect on my mistakes?--has worn thin over the years. Worse, Sarkozy looks tired, or, better, as though he's boring himself with an old song-and-dance number that he's performed too many times. He knows it isn't working, but he's not going to stop singing until the fat lady begins.

Or President Obama--Sarkozy's one lively moment came when Pujadas asked him to comment on Obama's rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago" with B. B. King and Mick Jagger. Would French mores permit a French president to do such a thing? "It's not a French-American matter, M. Pujadas. It's that he sings well, and I sing badly." If only, he seemed to be thinking, if only I had what that guy has.

Poll Comparator

Thanks to an anonymous commenter for the link.

Fais gaffe, François!

The polls are tightening. More here.

France Mourns!

Yes, all of France is in mourning: Frédéric Nihous of Chasse, pêche, nature et traditions has decided to withdraw from the presidential race and has thrown his support to Sarkozy. It's a pity, because I love explaining to Americans that France has a Hunters, Fishermen, Nature and Traditions Party that actually puts up a presidential candidate. Unlike the US, which just forces its presidential candidates to pretend that they love nothing better than gutting deer and making their own shot from molten lead.

Frédéric Nihous, président de Chasse, pêche, nature et traditions, renonce à se présenter à la présidentielle et soutient Nicolas Sarkozy

Candidat en 2007, Frédéric Nihous avait recueilli 1,15 % des suffrages exprimés. CPNT, allié à l'UMP depuis 2009, avait fait liste commune avec le parti majoritaire aux élections régionales de 2010.

Is There a "Jewish Vote" in France?

Robert Zaretsky tackles the question, with differing input from me and Pierre Haski.

Le Pen Loses Her Case

The Conseil Constitutionnel has ruled against Marine Le Pen in her bid to have parrainages made anonymous. So the question now arises: Is she bluffing about not being able to obtain the signatures? In an analysis to which I linked previously, Arun Kapil suggested that this time the difficulty might be real, because Sarkozy is so afraid of losing in the first round that he has discouraged UMP mayors and other eligible parrains from signing. But this begs the question of why the Socialists aren't stepping in to replace reluctant UMP officials. After all, they presumably have an interest in seeing MLP on the ballot, since she will drain votes from Sarkozy. And the Socialists, who are much stronger on the local than on the national level, influence many potential parrains.

Of course the PS will not want to be seen as encouraging an MLP candidacy. The cynicism of such a move would remind voters of Mitterrand's cynicism in instrumentalizing the FN in the first place. But there is also a principle to be defended, namely, that there is no democracy in a country if a party representing 16-20% of the electorate is excluded from the race, however distasteful one might find that party's ideology. So the Socialists might have their cake and eat it too, helping Le Pen on principle while helping themselves in practice. But would they dare?

In any case, I think someone must dare, because I think it sets a very bad precedent for those in power to decide who may or may not bid to replace them. It reeks of le suffrage censitaire to allow an elite consisting of those already in place to decide whose ideologies are acceptable and whose are not. No one is less enamored of Ms. Le Pen than I, but she is a reality that must be faced and a force that must be defeated, not sidelined by chicanery to fester in darkness.