Thursday, March 8, 2012

France Adopts Biometric ID Card

France has adopted a biometric ID card with a smart chip that will record fingerprints, eye color, height, weight, address, and other data. Some see a potential threat to civil liberties. (h/t CW)

Whiner or Martyr?

In a comment to this previous post, Bernard, taking Sarkozy to task for his self-pitying comments, asks, "Who needs a whiner for president?" Yes, it's possible to read the president's recent self-presentation in these terms. But it's also possible to read his remarks as both a campaign tactic (as Romain Pigenel does here) and a deeply-held belief about himself. How often have we heard Sarkozy refer over the years to the immense burdens of his office? How often have we heard him describe himself as a martyr, suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (the economic crisis, for starters) and obtuse opponents ("tous les conservatismes") for the sake of his fellow Frenchmen? So his latest foray, excusing his mistakes by invoking a dolorous personal narrative (which Bernard Girard finds "almost indecent"), is only a variant of the perennial theme of martyrdom and self-sacrifice. There is a certain pathos in his self-portrait: you know how much I love lucre, he seems to be saying, yet I have forgone the colossal sums I could have made in the private sector to suffer for your sins, vous autres les Français (que des veaux, comme disait l'Autre). And now you are about to forsake me.

It's worth remembering that when Sarkozy accepted Bolloré's yacht, his original plan had been to retreat to a monastery to prepare for his presidential askesis. I think it's not at all far-fetched to say that he thinks of the presidency as a kind of martyrdom, or at any rate thinks he can sell it as such to a certain part of the electorate. Hence his evocation of his "suffering" may not be "whining," as Bernard suggests, but a dramatization of the stations of his cross: Fouquet's, the yacht, the flight of Cécilia, casse-toi pauvr' con. Were these really such grievous sins, he is asking, that after them there can be no forgiveness? I am the only Son of de Gaulle in this race, he is reminding voters (de Gaulle being the model of the president as ascetic and martyr). The other guy wants to be "a normal president," but in France there is no such thing. Either you are prepared to die at the stake for your beliefs or you are not worthy of the office. Hence the warning to voters that a vote against their redeemer is a spear in his side, a sponge soaked in vinegar, another nail through the hand. You will kill me, he says, and return me to the fallen world in which I will be condemned to live out my days in cosseted luxury, a sinner like the rest of you. Unfortunately, the note of contempt for the ordinary run of humanity rather spoils the offer of redemption through self-sacrifice.

Jean Sarkozy Resurfaces

So, the elder Sarkozy may be leaving politics if he loses the election, but the younger seems poised to begin his long march through the institutions. The Figaro reports that he may not be a dunce after all:
Aujourd'hui inscrit en master I, Jean Sarkozy a découvert en allant récupérer le détail de ses notes qu'il était le major de sa promotion avec plus de 15,048 de moyenne. De quoi faire taire certains sarcasmes.
Freed of the burden of taking over EPAD, the story goes, he buckled down to his studies and made good. And why not?

Sarkozy Will Quit Politics If He Loses

Sarkozy abandonnera la politique s'il est battu

Interrogé jeudi matin sur BFM et RMC, Nicolas Sarkozy a répondu "oui" à la question de savoir s'il abandonnera la politique en cas de défaite à l'élection présidentielle.

The CSA Is on the Job

Thanks to a delightful article by Scott Sayare, we know that the CSA is doing its job and learn about a few candidates you may not have been following very closely:
To further confuse matters, the speech time refers not only to Mr. Hollande himself but also to any supporters — from politicians and pop stars to farmers and retirees — who back him on the air. And while there are 10 widely recognized candidates, dozens of obscure characters are campaigning as well, including a stripper representing the Pleasure Party and a man who dresses as a bumblebee; the agency tracks all of them.
After the designation of “official” candidates on March 20 — they must receive endorsements from 500 local officials — the agency requires that each receives equal speech time. And in the final four weeks before the second round of the election, on May 6, speech and coverage are to be equal for every aspirant. Fines are threatened for networks that fail to comply.