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Good riddance, Supermenteur

by Jerome a Paris Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 11:13:01 AM EST

Chirac has announced that, thankfully, he would not run again for President.

Until he actually leaves the Elysée, France has the sad privilege to be one of the last countries in the world to be ruled by a “dinosaur”, i.e. a political leader which rose to power in the early part of the second half of last century and has not left that place since. Amongst the other specimens of that race, one can include Fidel Castro, Dick Cheney, Muhammar Khadafi or, until recently, Yassir Arafat. Jacques Chirac, who was a Cabinet member for the first time in 1967 under de Gaulle, can rightfully claim to be a full member of that select club whose main (and only) competence is to grab power and keep it, on the back of the general populace.

Note: if you want more substantial commentary on the French election, go see afew's diary from earlier today.


To be fair to Chirac, he has been consistently – and mostly fairly - elected and reelected in his various posts, and the French thus bear a heavy responsibility for his continued presence in power. The man is clearly a gifted campaigner, able to run campaigns well suited to the mood of the day (as a Thatcherite in 1986, as a social populist in 1995, on a law and order platform in 2002) and able to make the French people forget that he has been utterly ineffective each time he has actually been in power – and that he has each time been voted out two years later (1976-78, 1986-88, 1995-97, 2002-04*).

How to explain this apparently irrational love of the French for such a manifestly incompetent politician – whom a majority agree should be in jail (maybe that's what he means when he says that he will "serve in another capacity" after this election?) The mediocrity of the alternatives? Nostalgia for a long-lost (and presumably glorious) past? Pity for a man who made it clear that he would not give up until he reached the supreme job? The feeling that it is not so important? Or the peculiarly French trait to stick it up to others (including other Frenchmen)?

As has been noted elsewhere, a few good things can be said about his presidency: the recognition of France's role in the deportation of Jews during WWII, his opposition to the invasion of Iraq, the sustained drive to lower the number of deaths on French roads. But these count little against the feeling of drift, rudderlessness and cynicism in France and the loss of its influence with in the EU. He simply did not care and did not bother.

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from one of the earliest things I wrote on the internets, 3 years ago.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 11:14:33 AM EST
So you were already a radical before ET?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 11:22:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
precedes form.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 11:29:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Content precedes form

Paul Cézanne didn't think so...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 12:41:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny, I expected Sven to reply to that ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 04:43:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am Sven's stunt double

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 05:03:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm getting a sense he's not your favorite politican?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 11:14:42 AM EST
I would hate my words to be misunderstood.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 11:29:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We must not be unfair: he did a lot for the promotion of Tête de veau ravigote


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 12:44:22 PM EST
Minor detail -- his first term as PM was, IIRC, 74-78.
by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 03:41:34 PM EST
Oops, typo. I meant 74-76.
by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 03:41:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Correct. His prize for stabbing Chaban in the back and helping Giscard get to the Elysée.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 04:45:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone else suspect that Chirac will support whichever candidate for President promises to not throw him in jail?  Naturally this is a tough order for law-and-order Sarkozy but hypocrisy has never been an issue with him so why not?
by paving on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 04:38:48 PM EST
Le Pen would throw him in jail and supply the rats to gnaw his toes off.

But would Sarko jail him? Bayrou? Royal? I doubt it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 04:42:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think he'll just reluctantly endorse Sarkozy, but beyond that won't do more than the bare minimum, if even that, to help him out.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 04:49:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm more interested in the backroom phone calls he'll be making.  Chirac has known many powerful people and has many favors he can call in. He also has a history of behaving badly at election time.  I think he will be proud of himself if in his last act of political will he is able to cock-clock Sarkozy.  This is consistent with his strategy of delaying his announcement as well.  No matter how the media tries to portray it a failure of one party leader to support another is bad, especially if they are the outgoing President.  If Chirac himself doesn't think Sarkozy, a fellow UMP guy, is cut out for the job why should anyone else?  It would be so easy for Chirac to support him fakely, even unenthusiastically but support him nonetheless.  His silence on the matter speaks volumes.

Lastly, IIRC Villepin is pledging support for Sarkozy now, yes?  That's a case of giving a cat your fleas if I ever saw one...

All signs point to Chirac providing back-door support for another candidate.  The question is Bayrou or Royal?

by paving on Tue Mar 13th, 2007 at 03:21:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Good Riddance" until you know what's to follow.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Mar 13th, 2007 at 07:53:59 AM EST


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