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Press Review: An American Neo-con with a French Passport

by redstar Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 07:48:11 AM EST

As Presidential elections heat up in France a bit, an interesting article was posted up on the PS website in the Hebdo Socialiste. Interesting enough that it hit Télématin's "Revue de Presse" this morning, something usually reserved for the national dailies, the IHT and the major regional papers. A harbinger of things to come for the darling of the French right.

Titled (loosely, no thought as to properly figuring out the English idiom here) "Sarkozy: Worryingly Out of Step," with a subtitle suggesting he is being purposefully quiet about it, the article (will translate key parts later, time permitting) rehashed all the points which the PS and the Royal camp are preparing against the likely 2nd round adversary.

I could detail them all, but as Alban Mickoczy, host of "Revue de Presse," underlined, the key phrase is all in the introduction:

La France est elle prête à voter en 2007 pour un néo-conservateur américain à passeport français ? Les partisans du candidat de l'UMP jugeront la question provocatrice et y verront, à l'approche, de l'élection présidentielle, une caricature injuste, exacerbée par l'approche de l'élection présidentielle.

Redstar Translation:

Is France really ready to elect an American neo-con carrying a French passport? Sarko's supporters think this question is unfair. So be it. Let's let them answer it anyway.

Meme at work here? Sakozy's out of step: with French Gaullist traditions of the right, and with the French people in general. (Hat tip to old frog.) A Schroeder campaign in the cards? Yes and no. Royal is also popular, unlike Schroeder's party, whose deep unpopularity prompted him to run against Bush instead of the German conservative opposition, on the way to an improbable re-election four years ago. So there will be far more substance posited on her side as well.

But if you think you won't see much of that photo I've posted up there with the article, think again...  

France's choice stands according to polls between a neocon and an airhead.

I am voting Bayrou, because if he comes to the 2nd run, he'll probably win.

by oldfrog on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 08:37:58 AM EST
by redstar on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 08:41:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well so far I just have heard wind coming out of her lips. She says ANYTHING that fits the audience she is about to meet. Her words lack substance. It's empty (but for some appealing) rethorics. Of course she is not completely stupid.

regarding your translation of "rupture tranquille" I'd prefer something like "the worrisome quiet break off". Sarkozy has been campaigning for years for a "break off" from the current system (leftwing gaullism). When they understood that the break off could be a bit too much for the majority of the French in the sense that they are not ready for neoliberalism, they added "quiet" to the word.

by oldfrog on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 08:50:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
good point on the xlation. suspect the choice of words intended ambiguity but yours is more contextually accurate, politically speaking.

as for Royal's public pronouncements, this looks like a standard anglo-saxon campaign to me at this point, two major parties, much style over substance.

if you think Royal is "an airhead" i wonder what you'd call Kerry.

by redstar on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 08:56:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kerry was just repeating what the mainstream Democrats
were saying at that time (with his foot in his mouth).

the difference with Sego is that she pretends to represent a "new style", a "rupture" like Sarkozy but of course in a different direction. The problem is that her discourse isn't coherent, to the difference of Sarkozy's.

she had gathered amazing statements about the role of diplomacy (in general), Iran, "participative democracy" to name a few since she started her campaign. That shows instability.

by oldfrog on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 09:10:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know what I'd call Kerry, and airhead isn't one of those things, though most of the rest of what I'd have to say is no more complimentary.

As for Royal, you have to consider what happened in 2002 on the left (and by this I mean all the left), and importantly, why it happened. For all this talk about rupture, the more important thing imho to consider on the Royal side is fracture.

Here you have a candidate who needs to speak to multiple left constituencies. These constituencies are quite different, running from the social democratic wing represented by DSK and favored by quite a few PS partisans (among others, Jérôme I believe) all the way to casual supporters of a far left, Laguiller and Besancenot, in passing by those (like me) who favor more conventional (and comprehensive) approaches to countering creeping anglo-saxon neo-liberalism.

Don't forget, that Jospin lost in 2002 because of an extremely fractured left, which got 42% of total votes (and a bit more than half of all non-Le Pen votes) but Jospin only a bit more than a third of these.

Why did this happen? Everyone has their opinion. Mine has to do with how Aubry and Jospin implemented 35 hours and how that played with the left rank-and file, then less with security issues that Chirac and Le Pen trumped up.

So now you have Royal needing to look forward in recreating the left as well as the public image of the left (which is why both DSK and Fabius were imho not optimal candidates), and at the same time appealing to multiple constituencies which are ideologically quite disimilar.

by redstar on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 10:14:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know where you see that. He's an even worse oportunist and liar than Chirac. He believes in nothing, and adapts his message to whatever the polls tell him. He's been worried of appearingtoo much to the right lately, so he has latched onto the "fracture sociale" theme, à la Chirac, again, after having supposedly supported unashamedly real liberalism.

In Bercy, he was the worst kind of interventionist one can imagine, and he was totally incoherent in his actions.

I see a lot more coherence in Ségolène Royal, who makes very specific points with her most provocative moves (grabbing the theme of security and toughness, for instance, neutralises a big angle of attack against her while not changing much her attractiveness to the left).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 01:45:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, he mispoke when he said 'rupture tranquille' on TV - he was supposed to say 'rupture maîtrisée' and slipped.

'Rupture tranquille' has a mitterrandian resonance which might play against Sarkozy.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 01:40:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the chance of Bayrou making it to the 2nd round?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 08:41:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Snowballs chance in Cadiz.
by redstar on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 08:42:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In August.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 11:51:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there is a pattern in French presidential elections that has practically never been broken where ONE of the favorites doesn't make it to the 2nd run. That would leave room for the "3rd man". The interesting question is if this one will be Bayrou or Le Pen.

Besides I have a feeling that the French are more and more tired of the couple Sego-Sarko dominating the debate.

I am expecting a little convenient scandal to show up soon regarding one of the main candidates.

by oldfrog on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 08:57:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What about a supposed Nicolas Hulot candidacy? The last poll I saw had him on par with Le Pen and Bayrou.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 09:27:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hulot doesn't want to be a candidate, he has been using his popularity to pass his ecological message by primarily blackmailing the left. The French want him as an environmental champion, but are prepared to send a message to the big parties by voting for him in the 1st run. The blackmail has worked, all main parties have signed his "ecological pact", which means that they can be hold accountable later. That managed to sink the French Greens to the 3% level, which they deserved.
by oldfrog on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 09:41:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there is a pattern in French presidential elections that has practically never been broken where ONE of the favorites doesn't make it to the 2nd run.

You're leaving me scratching my head there. Who -- beyond Jospin in 2002, obviously -- are the "favourites" who didn't make it to Round Two?

I expect you'll say Balladur in 1995, but Chirac was all the same the leader of the main party and the natural candidate of the right. And in elections before that? Chirac-Mitterand 1988, Giscard-Mitterand 1981, Giscard-Mitterand 1974... You'd have to go back to 1969 and say that it was a surprise Jacques Duclos didn't make it to the second round, which is arguable.

If there's a pattern, it seems to me one in which the leaders of the two main left-right blocs end up in Round Two. That was why 2002 was such a bombshell.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 11:46:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
2002 was a bombshell because Le Pen made it to the 2nd round. If Jospin had been upset by a nother candidate from the left, or Chirac by one from the right, it wouldn't have been nearly as momentous (and would have been ignored outseide France).

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 11:50:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the fact that it was Le Pen made it momentous, but my point is that there is not generally "another" candidate from the left or right who risks upsetting the apple-cart in a French presidential.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 11:53:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you forget Rocard, Barre, Chaban-Delmas to name some. All those were media/poll favorites and got "played out". It's true that the system favorizes an endgame right/left, but there are plenty of booby-traps in the 1st round. Now the two main candidates seem to have cristallized, but you only ned a convenient "scandal" to reshuffle the cards.
by oldfrog on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 03:28:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barre and Chaban were candidates, true, but they were not "favourites" at the time of the election. As for Rocard, however good his approval polls at one time in his career, he was never a candidate (unless I'm much mistaken).

This seems to me like a fairly standard political game. Of course, as you say, a "scandal" could change things. That's true, though, of any election anywhere.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 04:36:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
not favourites ?

En 1988, il est candidat à l'élection présidentielle et obtient 16,5 % des voix au premier tour. Donné favori par beaucoup de sondage quelques mois avant l'élection y compris devant Francois Mitterand, il est victime d'une véritable entreprise de démolition de la part du camp de Jacques Chirac et notamment de son lieutenant,Charles Pasqua. Il est à noter que beaucoup plus tard, François Mitterrand rendra hommage à Raymond Barre en le qualifiant de "véritable homme d'Etat". Il restera pour beaucoup "un homme carré dans un corps rond" mais certains commentateurs avisés de la vie politique française estiment que "la France avait raté Barre".


Plusieurs fois ministre sous la Quatrième République, il devient Premier ministre sous le mandat de Georges Pompidou de 1969 à 1972. Il est contraint à la démission par le président, qui n'apprécie ni son projet de « Nouvelle société », trop progressiste, ni la maladresse de son Premier ministre[1], qui a utilisé un moyen alors légal de ne pas payer d'impôt sur le revenu. Le Canard enchaîné, après avoir publié ses feuilles d'impôt singulièrement réduites par l'avoir fiscal, publie au début de 1972[2] une feuille entièrement vierge, toujours grâce à ce procédé.[3]. La conjuration fut montée par le tandem sulfureux, Marie-France Garaud et Pierre Juillet qui jouaient un rôle d'éminence grise auprès du Président Pompidou.

Jacques Chaban-Delmas est candidat aux élections présidentielles de 1974. Lâché par Jacques Chirac, il voit rapidement ses chances s'effondrer dans les sondages pendant la campagne du premier tour ; Françoise Giroud, qui soutient François Mitterrand, dédaigne de l'attaquer et lui réserve ce mot d'une rare cruauté : « On ne tire pas sur une ambulance » ; en définitive, il est largement distancé par Valéry Giscard d'Estaing en faveur duquel il doit se désister. Sa défaite entraîna la naissance du cruel néologisme « chabaniser ».

(the mother of all swiftboatings)

Rocard is a more or less bad example. He could have become a good President if he hadn't been outmanoeuvred by Mitterand.

so adding Balladur and Jospin you have at least 4 of them. I'm sorry but French political pundits argue that
the current situation with "2 absolute favourites before the 2nd run" is rather unique. Only the fact that Le Pen doesn't get his signatures, can put Bayrou in a complete different situation. His actual score is 10%. But should he make 16% in the coming month, the fate of the 2nd run is completely uncertain.

by oldfrog on Fri Jan 12th, 2007 at 09:42:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not French, but I do believe Royal has the bravitude to be president. A whole lot better than the Sarkodemon, at any rate.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 08:44:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
she is the French Mona Sahlin without diapers and toblerone (but probably with far worse corpses in her amazingly big garderobe)
by oldfrog on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 09:13:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, in that case, I'll have to take a second look at Bayrou! I was awfully surprised when Sahlin somehow managed to resuscitate her political career after the beating she took in the Swedish media...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 09:21:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bayrou is one of the driving forces behind the European Democratic Party. See also my recent diary on the European Political Parties.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 09:24:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
besides that :

  • he is very well respected : people use to say that "the only thing wrong with Bayrou is his big ears"

  • he has a humble background "standing with both feet on the soil" like the small peasant community he comes from, to the difference from the two other main candidates coming from privileged classes.

  • he wants to gather all "good men" (from different political horizons) to work out the countries problems. Which means he could appoint a guy like Strauss-Kahn as prime minister despite the fact that he is socialist.

  • he wants a 6th constitution, more on a parliamentary model, which France badly needs

  • he is into it because he does believe he can make a difference, not for the sole exercise of power, which is the main driving force for both Ségo and Sarko.

Politically he is a Christian (secular) Democrat. Which means that he'll work to keep a balance between the market's and the social needs, without falling into neoliberalism or state dirigism (Sego has no real program of her own, if elected France will go back to Jospinism)...

His main problem is that for ideological reasons (split between conservatism and an out of tune left)  and the election system in itself, it's very difficult to break through...

but not impossible

by oldfrog on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 09:55:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Explain what you mean by "out of tune left". Please provide examples, and perhaps some supporting evidence.

As for your reference to Royal reverting to an imagined "Jospinism" you apparently disdain (despite the fact that the only period of growth, unemployment reduction and income gains in the past two decades was under his government...) I'm wondering how you would make this comment in light of your comment that Bayrou is some antruistic rallier of all French, citing as you do the fact he would name DSK as PM.

DSK is, for all intents and purposes, at the core of Jospinism.

by redstar on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 10:23:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is bullshit slander. And petty too.

If you have some source for your slander, I'd invite you to present it, else I'd suggest keeping your remarks to policy.

by redstar on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 10:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Care to elucidate?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 11:47:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we talking about anything other than the Rainbow Warrior thingy?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 04:44:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why does everyone tiptoe around these "corpses"? Who knew that French politicians were so timid and reluctant to give offense?

There's something boy-crying-wolfish about all these insinuations against Royal. First, we heard that she wanted to send naughty children to Nazi-style concentration camps -- and that turned out not to be exactly true. Then that she intended to make teachers work 80 hour weeks with no overime -- and once again that didn't exactly pan out. And now you're saying that she has not just "skeletons" but stinking "corpses" in her capacious closet. Any wonder that I'm a little skeptical?

by Matt in NYC on Thu Jan 11th, 2007 at 02:34:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Minor nitpick: the story of the miralce victory of the Red-Green government in the 2002 German elections was a bit different. Before the August flood and standing up to Dubya in 2002, Schröder was still popular (even if not as popular as just before elections) - but not his party. There was a strange disconnect back then, Schröder was such a father figure that tha blame for all his errors in leadership were diverted on others by the public. To underline the case, here is the 22.07.2002 (pre-flood, pre-Iraq-split) cover of DER SPIEGEL:

The title means "Schröder's Last Man", meant is that he himself is his last man to count on in pulling off victory. A final addition: Iraq and flood were enough only to pull even with the opposition, what brought the final percentages was Schröder's crushing of rival Stoiber in a lousy TV debate. (Lousy because style trumped substance, Stoiber's failure was basically to let himself come across nerdish while Schröder radiated self-confidence... now maybe that has some relevance to the present French elections...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 10:47:00 AM EST
duly noted.
by redstar on Wed Jan 10th, 2007 at 02:27:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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